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State govt honours seven Bengaluru unicorns

The Karnataka government honoured seven unicorns that were incubated in this tech hub over the years as the country’s startup capital.

Instituted by the state’s Department of IT, Biotechnology and, Science and Technology, Bengaluru Impact Award-winning unicorns include Ola, Mu Sigma, Big Basket, Swiggy, InMobi, Quikr and Flipkart.

In start-up and venture capital circles, unicorns are start-ups commanding a minimum valuation of $1 billion.

“It has been a long journey. Ladies are happy as we give them fresh produce,” said Big Basket founder Hari Menon receiving the award at the Bengaluru Palace.

Later, Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister C.N. Ashwath Narayan said an innovation sandbox policy was created on November 9 through an ordinance.

“That we passed an ordinance without waiting for an Assembly session is an indication of the urgency we have shown in this matter,” said Narayan.

According to the new policy, any firm in Karnataka can apply for specific state laws waivers for up to two years to protect their innovative ability.

“This is the first sandbox without sector restrictions in the world, I’m confident that this initiative will greatly accelerate job growth and boost economic sentiment in the state,” said Narayan.

In addition to the already existing Vision Group for IT (VGIT) and Vision Group for BT (VGBT), Narayan said a new Vision Group for Startups has been started.

He said the new vision group fulfils the sore need felt for a mechanism to interact with the government for productive negotiations.

All the visions groups will start meeting once a month, deviating from the earlier practice of meeting twice a year.

“They don’t even need to call me for help. I will also be creating a Whatsapp group through which I will stay in touch with all of them,” added Narayan.

The IT, BT and S&T minister said the department is working towards establishing a Talent Accelerator to address the mismatch between the quality of graduates and industry expectations.

The Talent Accelerator will offer industry-led mentorship programmes to high performing school and college students, with a focus on smaller towns and rural areas.

Encouraging the concept of apprenticeship in the technology sector and expanding existing programmes such as New Age Incubation Networks (NAIN) are part of the plan, he said.

“We will work in partnership with the industry to perform our duties towards the youth of Karnataka,” said Narayan.

Narayan also announced Karnataka Technology Development Board (KTDB), responsible for attracting domestic and foreign technology investments into the state.

KTDB will create an infrastructure to extend the Tech Corridor beyond Bengaluru to Mysuru, Mangaluru, Belagavi, Shimoga and Hubli-Dharwad.

Focusing on Bengaluru infrastructure, Narayan said 12 high-density corridors, bus priority lanes, phase 2 and 3 of Metro rail, suburban rail line and peripheral ring road works are being executed on war mode.

According to Narayan, BTS in 2020 will also offer product launch platforms.

The awards were presented Narayan, Infosys co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan, Additional Chief Secretary, department of IT, BT and S&T E.V. Ramana Reddy and Director of the same department Prasanth Kumar Mishra.

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