Bengaluru, the capital of Karnataka, is a leading destination for startups in the country, and arguably for the world as well. Given this background and with the startup ecosystem evolving and getting stronger by the day, the state government has also played a key role.
Now, the government is keen to further enhance its support for these young companies and entrepreneurs to enable an all-round development, said C N Ashwath Narayan, Minister for Electronics, IT, BT and S&T, Higher Education, Skill Development, Entrepreneurship & Livelihood, Government of Karnataka, in an interaction with YourStory.
Here are edited excerpts from the conversation.
YourStory (YS): How do you see the future of the evolution of startups in Karnataka?
Ashwath Narayan (AN): Startups have made big difference in providing solutions and it has now grown up to create a disruption. It is not only the reason of economics as the solutions provided by the startups is making a huge difference in the lives of people providing them with a better standard of living.
It [startup sector] is growing bigger and better from state to national and international level and they are getting better recognition, market access for all the products, as well as services.
They are gaining a lot of confidence, recognition, and it is a proud moment for us as Indians. We can now show the world what kind of talent we have and the aspirations of our younger generation. Life has become much more meaningful.
YS: What steps is the Karnataka government taking to further the growth of startups in the state?
AN: We have come out with many programmes to promote startups along with the IT-ITeS industry particularly taking them beyond the capital Bengaluru. We have policies around IT, ESDM, engineering R&D among others to encourage the ecosystem as well as the startups.
We have bought in a lot of reforms in the procurement system of government where opportunities are provided to startups to participate in contracts without having the minimum criteria or turnover.
Also, larger players are given more points if they partner with startups while bidding for government procurement contracts. Such initiatives will help startups to be part of the government procurement system.
C N Ashwath Narayan, Minister for Electronics, IT, BT and S&T, Higher Education, Skill Development, Entrepreneurship & Livelihood, Government of Karnataka
We also have the Elevate programme, which is one of the best in the country, where we have funded more than 500 startups. Now, we are planning to expand it region wise as it becomes difficult for these entrepreneurs to compete with those from the larger cities. We have a lot of emphasis on women entrepreneurs as well.
There will be further reforms to give better access to startup reforms access to financial institutions. In every possible way startups in the state will be given much more encouragement.
YS: How will the government foster entrepreneurship in the education system?
AN: We have established numerous incubators especially in engineering colleges now with the introduction of the new National Education Policy, it will be the biggest gamechanger or transformation for the entire system.
Now, students from their schooling days and in higher education can focus on competence, a concept that will lead to more holistic learning which will lead to greater knowledge, ideas and innovation.
This will put our youth in a better position to lead from the front and institutions will be better-placed to provide the quality human resources which the industry requires, thereby encouraging the entire ecosystem. Students will also have hands on experience, experiential learning, and be part of the industry through internships.
YS: What steps is the government taking to spread startup culture in the state outside of Bengaluru?
AN: We are now trying to connect with all potential companies, global capability centres (GCC), global in-house centres (GIC) to expand their offices beyond Bengaluru in a conducive and sustainable manner.
We are trying to facilitate the reach of these companies by handholding them and providing the necessary infrastructure as well as whatever required support in terms of skilled manpower, or anything else.
We believe in facilitating the entire ecosystem and the government is just one call away from startups for any kind of support.
YS: How is the government encouraging country-to-country collaboration, which will also help startups?
AN: Many of the countries have been making advancements in numerous areas and their innovations can give us a lot of information and exposure. Thereby, this sharing of knowledge and collaboration will benefit both countries.
Such initiatives will also showcase our strength and help in attracting investments as such collaboration will help our startups to scale themselves to the global level. Besides our startups can get better access to other markets and opportunities while providing exposure. We cannot work in silos and it is not going to help anybody.
YS: What steps is the government taking to promote women entrepreneurs?
AN: We have created an exclusive fund to encourage women entrepreneurs as well as socially disadvantaged groups. This is the topmost priority of the government and there are enough funds available for such startups.
The government of India has also got many such schemes and many of our programmes can be integrated with them.
YS: Is the government looking at making Karnataka the pre-eminent destination for startups?
AN: Yes, this is the way forward and by doing this we can address all concerns be it environment, climatic change, culture, economic progress, equality, accessibility and the list is long.
Our progress will be through startups, and for this reason, we are putting our best foot forward.