Karnataka govt to invest $6 mn in AI, data science hub
Photo Credit: Shah Junaid/VCCircle

The Karnataka government will invest Rs 40 crore ($6.1 million) to establish a centre aimed at developing artificial intelligence (AI) and data science capabilities in the state and across the country, a press statement said.

Christened as the Centre of Excellence for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (CoE-DS&AI), the tech hub will operate on a public-private partnership model. The state government will provide investment support for the initial five years and also offer non-sensitive information for research.

IT industry body NASSCOM will serve as the centre’s programme and implementation partner.

“This Centre of Excellence is the logical next step required to provide the right fillip to data science and AI and give a head start to not just the state, but India as a destination to develop global product solutions,” Priyank Kharge, minister for IT, BT (biotechnology) and tourism, government of Karnataka, said in the press note.

Kharge added that the centre will help global companies create approximately 35,000 jobs for data science and AI professionals over the next five years. The facility, which has already received cabinet approval, will run on a hub-and-spoke model, with Bangalore as its centre.

The department of information technology will inaugurate the centre in January 2018, a report in The Times of India stated.

In an interaction with VCCircle last month, Kharge said that a significant number of startups in the state were looking for mentorship and capital.

In July last year, the Karnataka government launched initiatives to mobilise up to Rs 2,000 crore by 2020 to invest in startups across sectors, from technology to social impact. The state has set an ambitious target of nurturing 20,000 startups by 2020.

The state government also backs startups through an investment vehicle called Karnataka Information Technology Venture Capital Fund (KITVEN), set up in 1999-2000. The fund, which has two dozen startups in its portfolio, boasts of six buyouts by names like Cisco and EDS Corporation, a couple of public listings, and a slew of promoter buybacks and secondary sales.

Under Karnataka Startup Policy 2015-20, the state is running various funds with a total corpus of Rs 400 crore for equity investments, besides several grants, prizes, partnership and mentoring offers. In the past one year, the government has established a Rs 100 crore venture fund for semiconductor and electronics manufacturing, a Rs 50 crore fund for biotech startups, a fund-of-funds with a corpus of Rs 200 crore to back other VC funds, a Rs 20 crore fund for animation and gaming startups, and a grant-in-aid fund of Rs 50 lakh for idea-to-proof of concepts (Idea2POC).

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