Winning 30% of the total startup awards instituted by the Government of India recently is an icing on the cake for us at the Government of Karnataka. The National Startup Awards 2021, announced as part of the Startup India Innovation Week, seeks to recognise and reward outstanding startups and ecosystem enablers contributing to economic dynamism by spurring Innovation and injecting competition.
A range of startups from innovative products/solutions, scalable enterprises with high potential of employment generation or wealth creation, demonstrating measurable social impact have been recognised through these awards. Sectors ranged from Agriculture and Animal Husbandry to education, space and Transport and Travel.
Karnataka showed an impressive performance with the highest number of nominations at 459. The State’s startups won 14 Startups of the total 46 awards, thereby notching up 30% of the awards. We are also proud of the fact that three of 14 award winners – Tinkerbell, Steradian, and Tagboxare – are won by ELEVATE 100 winners.
When it comes to Karnataka and startups, one can keep dishing out statistics and data at a rapid speed. For instance, India has more than 70 Unicorns, and most of them are from the State. Bengaluru more than doubled its venture capital funding to $21.3 billion in 2021 across 551 companies, more than all other cities in India put together. Our state capital has produced the first Unicorn – Inmobi and the largest one, Flipkart and the Fastest one, Mensa. There are several other such interesting data points.
It is also a fact that Karnataka has served as India’s technology capital for several decades now. With a robust ecosystem of R&D centres, academic institutions, leading technology companies and our flourishing startup ecosystem, the State has significantly contributed to India’s Innovation and growth trajectory.
Our journey in the last few years has been incredible. We have progressed way ahead in nurturing exceptional companies. We will stay on this path to create businesses that strengthen the Digital India narrative.
While there are several things we have done right in our State, what stands out as unique to me is coming together of the Industry and the Government in perfect harmony. The IT, BT & ST Department Industry and Vision Group are the three pillars on which we have built a robust startup environment that promotes Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Disruptive Technologies.
Here are a few lessons I have learnt through this perfect public-private partnership.
First, do not be afraid of seeking external help. It is practically impossible for the government to have solutions to all problems. Government administration and teams bring in unique skills, and the industry brings in distinctive subject matter knowledge and experience. Marrying both is essential for building a conducive economic environment. This lesson has made us grow Karnataka’s tech and startup ecosystem from strength to strength. It has helped us cultivate the mindset of ‘collaborate, innovate, improvise, stay relevant and excel.’
We have built policies to encourage product development, IP creation and R&D. Our Global Innovation Alliance (GIA) is proof of our ever willingness to collaborate. We have more than 30 GIA partner countries that share strategic relationships and agreements.
Second, staying relevant is fundamental. When we live in an intensely competitive world, resting on laurels is a definite no-no. Past achievements do not guarantee future success. It is not just the industry. The governments also need to reinvent, The governments also need to reinvent, recalibrate and reskill to stay relevant and competitive. With this intent, we set up The Karnataka Digital Economy Mission, a non-profit organisation, as a knowledge bridge between the state government and industry. KDEM’s goal is to speed up the growth and investment in Karnataka’s IT, BT, and S&T sectors. We are the only state in the country and second to Singapore globally to do so.
In the last two years, because of the pandemic, we have understood the significant role science and technology can play in solving issues of society and people. We need to encourage more such solutions, and KDEM can play the role of a catalyst in Karnataka. Specific to startups, we have seen the landscape grow and expand across fintech, agriculture, latest technologies like EV, data security, biotechnology, healthcare and many more.
Lastly, stay on course with the purpose. The government’s intent is to provide the youth with enough knowledge and opportunities to pursue their dreams and compete globally. Our goal is set not just on leading the Technology path of the Country. We are harnessing our strength in technology, education, and skill development to make Karnataka a futuristic state where the youth can chase their dreams and make them a reality.
Our purpose is deeply tied to our nation’s aim of becoming a five trillion-dollar economy by 2025. Our PM has redefined and reimagined the economic engine with a specific focus on startups. We want Karnataka to play a vital role in achieving it. Startups are our backbone.
We are always scouting for opportunities to innovate that further job generation and improve our people’s standard of living. In the past few years, Karnataka has taken up Innovation as a collective and strategic mandate and approached it in a planned manner to build an even more robust ecosystem. One of our key focus areas is taking the startup and tech ecosystem Beyond Bengaluru. We are taking measures to strengthen telecom, electricity, and other infrastructure to support the growth of the innovation ecosystems in cities beyond Bengaluru — Mysuru, Mangaluru, Tumakuru, Shivamogga, Hubbali-Dharwad, and Kalaburagi clusters of the state.
Such concerted and consistent efforts from all three pillars — government, industry and Vision Group — has made us the top-performing state for the second consecutive year in 2020 as per DPIIT’s States’ Startup Ranking. We are also the ‘Most Innovative State’ in India Innovation Index 2020 by Niti Aayog for the second consecutive year. Karnataka has the highest number of Agtech startups and is fast emerging as the FinTech capital of the country with the largest number of FinTech unicorns.
Such recognitions are both an endorsement of the effort we have put in and a reminder for us to stay on course to achieve more. It gives us confidence that the state’s technology sector has a bright future for decades to come.
(The writer is Minister for Higher Education, IT, BT, & ST, Skill Development, Entrepreneurship & Livelihood, Govt of Karnataka)
Read more at: Deccan Herald