State to set up innovation hub for agri startups

State to set up innovation hub for agri startups

While Bengaluru is hailed as India's Startup Capital, the agriculture sector has not caught the attention of entrepreneurs and investors.

The state government wants to change this by setting up a Centre of Excellence that can identify innovators in the sector, fund and mentor them.

The government is in talks with the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP), one of India's premier life sciences technology and innovation hub, for setting up the facility that Agriculture Minister Krishna Byre Gowda hopes will boost innovation in the sector leading to creation of agri startups.

"The idea is to identify key problems in the agriculture sector, put up grand challenges and develop companies," Gowda told DH. "Many of the problems in agriculture are not well articulated. As a result, it doesn't attract talent and investors. In life sciences, for instance, problems are well known. Once you have a well-defined problem, people may come forward to solve it using technology. And once there's technology, you can line up the funds," he said, explaining why the Centre of Excellence was important.

Clearly, the government wants more startups to enter the agriculture sector. According to Gowda, only four- 5W Ventures, Amvicube, Geek Labs and GRoboMac - qualified for the Elevate 100 programme, which is the state government's entrepreneurship platform. In contrast, there were 27 startups from the electronic semiconductor design, 26 from the IT/ITeS and 19 from life sciences sectors among others.

Karnataka launched an agri startup fund of Rs 10 crore last year. "The fund was disbursed fully, but we want more startups so as to make Karnataka the agri innovation hub," the minister said.

The C-CAMP recently collaborated with the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru, to start an agri-innovation centre. "The Centre of Excellence (CoE) will be the government's platform to support the agri-innovation centre. The CoE will act as an innovation hub where identification, funding and mentoring will happen in one go," C-CAMP chief executive officer Taslimarif Saiyed said. "If we can come up with 3-4 disruptive ideas in the next five years, that'll be a job well done."

Gowda has asked officials to finalise the modalities of setting up the Centre of Excellence in the next two weeks. "Ideally, we want it ready before the next budget," the minister said.


At a glance

*Govt in talks with C-CAMP to set up innovation hub.

*Only 4 agri startups qualified for Elevate 100.  

*Karnataka already has an agri startup fund of Rs 10 crore

Millet food in Indira Canteens

Authorities are working on introducing millet-based food in anganwadis and Indira Canteens, Gowda said. "The BBMP has agreed in-principle. I have asked them to look at ragi mudde and other easier options like millet bisi bele bath and millet idlis. We are also getting some chefs to meet BBMP officials to share recipes and work out costing," Gowda said. The Agriculture department has been aggressively campaigning for organic and millet foods to become mainstream.

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