IT/BT dept plans Rs 150-crore Debt Fund for Startups

IT/BT dept plans Rs 150-crore Debt Fund for Startups

Under this, 1,000 graduates across five streams will be trained over the next two years, the department has proposed.  (Credit: iStockPhotos)

Hoping to give startups some good news in the upcoming state Budget, the IT/BT department is looking to earmark Rs 150 crore under a new ‘Debt Fund’ to help companies secure Series-A funding. 

The first-of-its-kind initiative was discussed during the pre-budget meeting Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa held with his deputy C N Ashwath Narayan, who is the IT/BT minister. 

At present, debt funds in India support only those startups that have secured Series-A funding. By starting a Debt Fund, the state government wants to bridge the gap that exists until a startup gets Series-A funding. Narayan has sought Rs 150 crore over a three-year period, with Rs 35 crore for the purpose in the 2020-21 fiscal. 

In the startup ecosystem parlance, Series-A funding refers to a company’s first significant venture capital financing. The Series-A funding is usually preceded by a seed funding. As a company matures, funding moves to Series B and C rounds. Bengaluru is estimated to have nearly 10,000 startups, mostly in the technology sector, and they are said to have raised  $30.57 billion in funding since 2010. 

The Debt Fund, authorities say, will add to the government’s existing schemes under which startups are provided seed funding and venture capital support. For instance, as many as 97 startups were selected for funding under the government’s Elevate programme. 

The department is also keen to announce the setting up of an Artificial Intelligence Research Translation Park in association with the Indian Institute of Science. The park, according to the department, will prioritize AI pilot projects in the areas of healthcare, transportation, agriculture, education, financial services and urban management among others. The department has sought a corpus grant of Rs 50 crore for this. 

That apart, Yediyurappa has been urged to announce a Talent Acceleration Programme to “impart and upgrade” skills for guaranteed placement. Under this, 1,000 graduates across five streams will be trained over the next two years, the department has proposed. 

A lab to run data analytics for good governance, an innovation hub that brings various government programmes under one roof, a Karnataka Technology Mission for investment promotion are among other initiatives the department has pushed for inclusion in the 2020-21 Budget. 

“The CM has evinced an interest in hiking the outlay for the IT/BT department,” Narayan said. “Our current outlay is Rs 120 crore and we’ve asked for this to be tripled.”

 

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