Bengaluru may be India's startup and technology hub but its crumbling infrastructure and traffic woes are making the state government look beyond the Garden City to attract future investments.
In an interview with Moneycontrol, Karnataka's IT & BT (infotech and biotech) minister CN Ashwath Narayan said the aim is to increase IT exports to $150 billion in the next 3-4 years but this will come by expanding beyond Bengaluru. The state’s current IT exports are around $65 billion.
“If we want to reach $150 billion, it cannot happen only in Bengaluru, we need to take it beyond. What we have targeted are achievable numbers,”he said.
Karnataka announced its Beyond Bengaluru programme in November 2020 as part of which it looked to create tech jobs outside of India’s Silicon Valley as well as set up hubs in the state depending on the industry to push innovation. The Beyond Bengaluru programme was created under the Karnataka Digital Economy Mission (KDEM), a non-profit organisation created to serve as a knowledge bridge between the state government and industry.
For the plan Narayan outlines, talent is a crucial aspect. As he also holds the portfolio of skill development in the state, he says that the needs of the industry can be addressed adequately.
“Even now there are a number of unemployed engineers when compared to the requirements of the industry. We are trying to address that gap and provide the right kind of training,” he said, adding that even in non-technical courses, people will learn about IoT or internet of things, cloud computing, data analytics, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and so on.
“We’re trying to increase the availability of manpower by targeted talent acceleration,” he said, adding that companies can set up offices in different locations based on the availability of talent.
The minister, who is also a qualified doctor, said that the state’s startup ecosystem is worth Rs 8,000-10,000 crore, and that the government wants to take that to Rs 80,000 crore.
Another focus area for KDEM has been global captive centres (GCCs)/global innovation centres (GICs), where the offshore hubs would be in Bengaluru and offices in locations other than Bengaluru such as Mangaluru, Hubballi and Mysuru, which have been identified as emerging tech clusters state for which task forces have been set up to help build a supporting ecosystem.
“When a company wants to expand, we are asking them to expand beyond Bengaluru because many of the resource come from these places. COVID-19 has become very conducive for the establishment of companies beyond Bengaluru,” he said.
The state is also inviting investments from companies working on emerging technologies such as Web3, metaverse and AR & VR.
While Bengaluru continues to be the state’s crown jewel, the city’s crumbling civic infrastructure—particularly the state of roads and traffic congestion—is an issue that has been raised by entrepreneurs and industry leaders repeatedly.Narayan said Bengaluru’s 13,000-km road network will be asphalted by the end of the year, adding that the pandemic and rains delayed work. He said that the city’s growing number of private vehicles is a challenge, but that the state government is investing in boosting public transport.