Karnataka to tap NRIs for start-up investments

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Bengaluru Karnataka plans to tap non-resident Kannadigas to set up start-ups and technology units in the state in its revised start-up policy, mirroring efforts by rival states Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

The move is also aimed at building a bridge with influential technology and business leaders from the community in the US and West Asia for more investments in the state.

Karnataka is focusing on incubating start-ups that use technology in agriculture, horticulture, housing and transport. For this, it is offering mentorship and critical support in finance, legal and accounting for startups.

“If NRIs, especially non-resident Kannadigas, need to set up offices, we will address that as well. We want to make the whole system open and free flowing,” said Karnataka’s Information Technology Minister Priyank Kharge in a telephonic interview. An updated startup policy will be announced next week.

Telangana has set up an “external affairs ministry” to oversee NRI affairs and named its infotech minister to handle the portfolio.

Several US technology leaders such as Hotmail founder Sabeer Bhatia, billionaire technology evangelist Desh Deshpande, BV Jagadeesh, founder of venture capital firm Kaaj Ventures, and Kumar Malavalli, founder of Brocade Systems, have their base in Bengaluru and Karnataka.

The state already has a non-resident Kannadiga investment promotion cell to facilitate clearance of proposals, accord priority in land allotment and other escort services.

Bengaluru is India’s start-up hub, with nearly a third of new firms being set up in the city. The city’s technology corridor- Sarjapur, Whitefield and Outer Ring Road – also sees nearly one-fifth of all office space consumption in the country, as global firms set up software units to cut costs and tap into the local workforce. The city is estimated to have over 5,000 startups in diverse areas.

Karnataka was the first state in the country to come up with a startup policy last year. “We have taken a lot of feedback from stakeholders, mentors and even start-ups. We realised that certain tweaking needed to be done in policies,” Kharge said. “Nowhere in the Centre’s policy is there a mention of a mentor facility, a financial expert, legal expert and accounting assistance. We will include all that. We will offer startups all that is required for them to scale up,” he added.

The state also plans to set up dedicated funds to promote entrepreneurship. “Start-ups do not register with the government. We want them to register and avail the benefits. We have a lot of funds. These have been conceptualised and raised for various sectors. Be it agriculture, biotechnology, aerospace or even social entrepreneurship, we want people to make use of these by registering,” he said.

The state also proposed to have a Startup Open House’ every month, where the minister along with his team would be available to interact with startups.

“We want the ministry to be more approachable. We want to break all barriers,” Kharge said.

Source :BusinessStandard