Bengaluru over the years has gained much more titles than just being the IT capital of India. It is now the startup capital of India and also India’s silicon valley. While startups, investors, and customers form a huge part of this ecosystem, the government of Karnataka is also increasingly playing a role in it. Karnataka is the first state in the country to come up with a Startup Policy, and have updated the policy after taking recommendations from the startups themselves.
Speaking exclusively to CIO India, Priyank Kharge, the state minister for IT, BT and tourism says, “The reason we are giving startups a push is that it gets in promoting emerging technologies, it helps in building skill sets for these emerging technologies and all this in turn, helps in innovation. It also helps the government to understand and use these emerging technologies effectively within various departments. Along with this, an entrepreneurial ecosystem is built that helps the economy, and also creates jobs.”
Kharge adds that he believes, with these initiatives, Karnataka will be the capital of innovations. “In four years we will have a very matured ecosystem in the services industry. We will be the most creative, innovative and disruptive when it comes to technology and startups. There will be startups from Karnataka that will be catering the huge domestic market as well as playing an important role in global trade,” says Kharge.
Here, are a few initiatives that the Government of Karnataka has taken to promote, push and support startups in the state.
1. The startup Karnataka booster kit
The Booster kit is available at discounted rates to all startups registered with the Karnataka Startup Cell. The kit includes cloud services, testing services, payment services, virtual telephony services, and software provided by various companies. There is also the opportunity for the startups to apply for funds. The Karnataka government has eight different startup funds.
2. Incubation centers
The Karnataka government has set up several incubation centers partnering with institutions and industry bodies such as NASSCOM. There is NASSCOM startup warehouse, which aims to support 10,000 startups in a period of five years. There is GoK Incubator for Tech Startups (GIfTS) in PPP model, with 91springboard as the program manager; for mobile startups the government has set up GoK Mobile 10x Hub in association with Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). For startups working in the biotechnology space, there is Bangalore Bioinnovation Center. The government has also tied up with institutions for setting up new age incubation centers that provide students a space to work.
3. Tax incentive and other benefits
VAT/CST and service tax paid by startups in the first three years will be reimbursed by the government of Karnataka. However, the company to be eligible for this should not exceed annual turnover of Rs 50 lakh. The government of Karnataka also reimburses 30 percent of advertising cost or spends, upto Rs 2 lakh for domestic patents and upto Rs 10 lakh for international patents for a Karnataka startup.
4. Grand challenges
The government of Karnataka has held five grand challenges and announced the sixth one as well. The government poses issues that the state and citizens are facing and asks the startups to come up with a solution using technology. The solutions that can help the government are funded by the government and also implemented in various government departments. For example, during Dussera, services from eight tourism startups funded last year were used to promote the Mysuru Dussera tourism.
The government has set up centers of excellence in various areas to support startups with latest technology and help them build better technology. This includes the recent announcement of a center of excellence in artificial intelligence and data science. The government has also set up CoEs in the space of aerospace and defence, IoT, biotechnology, etc.