Karnataka is not trying to be a Silicon Valley, says IT minister Priyank Kharge

The Congress broadly welcomes technology and social networking to reach out to the locals, said Priyank Kharge, IT, BT and Karnataka Tourism Minister. In an interview, Mr. Kharge, 38, said his party would not use technology and social media only during elections, but also for e-governance and to communicate with citizens. The technology minister, who often meets with the founders of the start-up and discuss technologies such as artificial intelligence, also said he did not want Bengaluru to be compared to Silicon Valley but wanted to become the world’s innovation hub . Excerpts: The governments of the United States, Israel and now China have played a key role in developing successful businesses. Do the governments of the country, especially in Karnataka, have enough?

We have done enough, otherwise, there would be 7,000 new businesses in Bengaluru. But I do not say that we are “finished and shed.” There are still many things we can do. We are trying to stimulate the whole ecosystem towards innovation and invention. Levante 100, BengaluruITE.biz or the policies we have proposed are prone to innovation and investment. Elevate 100 is a unique program, we try to find 100 most innovative companies in the state. We did not look for him in Bengaluru, we left the city (Mysuru, Hubbali, Mangaluru, Kalaburagi). Of the 1,700 lists we obtained, 400 were from rural areas. So innovation goes all over Karnataka.

Has the Karnataka Information Capital Risk Capital Fund succeeded? We are the most successful capitalization fund in the state on its third “avatar”. The last two were successful – that’s why we gave him a third life contract. We use that too for Elevate 100. It’s not just money, it’s about validating and testing your idea. They will probably have world-class mentors that we will give them and we will put them on an accelerator. We will help you with networking opportunities, market access and customer acquisition.

Although Bengaluru is a technology hub, Apple CEO Tim Cook traveled to Hyderabad last year. Is government sufficiently aggressive to defend technology leaders? I have absolutely no problem with CEOs visiting Hyderabad, I am happy, in fact, they should visit Hyderabad, they will know just how Bengaluru is. If you see … investments from Microsoft, Intel, Oracle [came to Bangalore]. Oracle and Nokia have [their] largest R & D center here. We have the best Fortune 500 companies here. I am not worried.

Policies that [we] are prone to innovation and investment. Yes, we have to do more, there are still many opportunities for improvement. They are no longer services. We want to emerge as thinkers in emerging technologies. We want to ensure Bengaluru innovation. [Apple’s assembly line for making iPhones in Bengaluru] is already in place. We are seeing how we can get the whole ecosystem here. Are employers concerned that there is very little collaboration between universities and young technology companies …?

Point taken. We work closely with the Indian Institute of Science. Recently I was there, trying to see how we can build on applied materials, nanotechnologies, for example, graphene (considered a miracle material, it is harder than diamond but elastic like rubber). We are trying to see how we can collaborate with universities outside of India as well. We offer several centers of excellence in emerging technologies that are outside of our program. We have centers of excellence in IoT, important data, AI, cybersecurity, animation and games, in which we try to raise the next skills for innovation.

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