Karnataka embraces AI, Data Science to dominate tech space

It is a well known fact that Karnataka has successfully adopted global technological changes and implemented them in its policy framework, thus helping the industry flourish. This was once again proved during the 20th annual Bengaluru Tech Summit (a culmination of BengaluruITE.biz and the Bengaluru India Bio 2017) that concluded last Saturday.

With a focal theme around 'Ideate, Innovate, Invent', the event paved the way for a fruitful dialogue between companies and the government. It witnessed collaborations, and the emergence of more disruptive technologies and path-breaking innovations on display.

Nasscom Chairman R Chandrasekhar aptly said Karnataka is a global leader in technology. "Over the past three decades, it has grown with the industry establishing itself as the research and development (R&D) capital and one of the fastest growing global tech centres. It is made possible with strong state support."

The state's tryst with information technology, which changed the innovation landscape of the state, started off in the mid-80s when Texas Instruments opened its centre in Bengaluru. The tumultuous journey of the industry witnessed the challenges of Y2K moment and the recent job loss clamour have made an impact on tech landscape. Led by the SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and cloud) technologies, the Karnataka tech hubs are facing the challenges from disruptive innovation like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), robotics, data science, blockchain, and industrial internet of things (IIoT).

Speaking at the inaugural function, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said Karnataka has emerged as innovation leader in the country and the only state to do in many ways and at many levels. "From the enterprise IT services business in the mid-90s to the startup revolution beginning 2010, it is now heralding the era of AI, Big Data, and Deep Learning in fields such as healthcare, manufacturing, and enterprise IT," he said.

He pointed out that Karnataka and Bengaluru have been fortunate to have the IT industry as an engine of growth for the last 25 years. "Today, the IT industry has over 15 lakh people, more than 25,000 companies of which around 7,000 are startups, an export revenue of $45 billion, more than 450 research labs with over 400 of Fortune 500 companies getting their work done here," he said. Karnataka's share in India's total IT exports has increased from 25% in 2010-2011 to 38% in 2016-17.

When India just entered the new landscape of fourth industrial revolution where machines are linked and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and AI playing a pivotal role, Karnataka has a major say as the tech capital of India. The Karnataka government is keeping its cards close to the chest and gearing up for the emerging challenges by establishing centre of excellence in high end technology domains.

Karnataka IT&BT Minister Priyank Kharge reiterated the government's plans to come out with a framework policy on blockchain in a bid to leverage new age technologies and implement for better citizen service. "Any emerging technology, just not big data, artificial intelligence, data analytics, will be used by the government for our better engagement with citizens," he said.

Kharge also pointed out the creation of centre of excellence a right move in this direction. "We want to give thrust on skilling and thus give affordable workforce. It will also help in incubation leading to innovation," he said.

The government also signed an agreement with Nasscom to launch the Centre of Excellence for data science and artificial intelligence with a total investment of Rs 40 crore. It is also supported by IBM, Intel, Digital Ocean, and NVIDIA.

Biocon Chairman Kiran Mazumdar Shaw said the development in the life sciences space heralded in a new age of digital health using advanced technology, AI and data sciences. "Digital biotechnology is gaining momentum. It is important to find that 60% of life-tech companies are located in Bengaluru and it has created 3,000 entrepreneurs. It is interesting to find that 30% of these companies are owned by women," she said.

For the first time, the tech summit included biotechnology, IT, audio-visual and gaming technologies. The three-day event witnessed participation of 1,500 companies, 250 exhibitors, over 3,000 delegates. Around 2,000 business to business meetings were held during the event.

Gaurav Gupta, Principal Secretary, department of IT, BT and S&T said: "It is great to see that Begaluru Tech Summit got an overwhelming response with the participation of industry veterans. It is really a trend setter".

Karnataka is playing a leading role in evolving the Indian Global In-house Center (GIC) over the past 20 years. Even though originally called captive centres in the early 1990s, GICs have emerged out of offshore centres of cost arbitration to centres of co-innovation. As per recent management consulting firm Bain & Company and Nasscom study, India has about 1,100 GICs, and a majority of them are in Benglaluru, which are tapping talent pool.

Chandrasekhar's statement aptly summarises the state's intent: "When chief minister of a State speaks about artificial intelligence, robotics.... you know the government really have their mind and attention deep into this industry."

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