Karnataka Digital Economy Mission (KDEM) is spearheading the ‘Beyond Bengaluru’ initiative by attracting Global Capability Centres (GCCs) to set up their offices in Mangaluru, Mysuru and Hubballi clusters.
Mangaluru is being projected as a Fintech hub and Fintech Task Force headed by Harshil Mathur will submit a road map for the growth of the industry shortly.
In an interview with DH’s Naina J A, KDEM chairman B V Naidu and Rohith Bhat, founder and CEO at 99 Games, founder Robosoft Technologies and industry anchor who is supporting KDEM activities for Mangaluru cluster, said that collaboration between academia and industry will facilitate growth in the cluster.
Excerpts from the interview
DH: What are the reasons for branding the Mangaluru cluster as a Fintech hub?
Naidu: KDEM is branding the Mangaluru cluster as a Fintech hub. The region is known as the cradle of banking with many banks tracing their roots to Mangaluru. This is the time we need to go back and give the same kind of importance to Mangaluru as a cluster.
DH: What is the role of the Fintech Task Force?
Naidu: Fintech Task Force, headed by Harshil Mathur, will submit a report shortly for the growth of the industry. The task group will identify challenges faced by the Fintech ecosystem and get partnering institutions, government to tackle them. Sahyadri College of Engineering and Management and Finsight (Financial Insight Venture Pvt Ltd, Bengaluru) inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to set up a Fintech Centre of Excellence at the college.
DH: What is the area of focus for the Mangaluru cluster?
Naidu: For the first time, the government and industry together are planning to create a cluster focused on Mangaluru. The government had set up an IT Park in Bengaluru as early as 2000.
Rohith: We are in the process of identifying two to three important segments where clusters can focus on. We are looking at gaming and also on animation, visual effects, gaming and comics (AVGC) industry. The government has announced AVGC policy to promote the state as a lucrative outsourcing destination and attract venture capital funding in the AVGC sector.
DH: What about nurturing startups?
Naidu: Already Beyond Bengaluru Startup Grid has been launched to facilitate network, market, mentor and investment access for startups. The time has come to recognise startups in clusters. In fact, 30% of startups selected by the government under the elevate programme are from these clusters. We have industry anchors like Pradeep Kumar, Prashanth Shenoy and Rohith Bhat who are supporting the startup ecosystem in the Mangaluru cluster.
Rohith: We want large companies to move towards establishing their centres in Mangaluru. We want to promote entrepreneurship from the region.
DH: What about infrastructure for sustaining the clusters?
Naidu: We are focusing on hard infrastructure like IT park kind of infrastructure and soft infrastructure which is nothing but talent for the long term sustainability of cluster. Trishul Buildtech and Infrastructures Pvt Ltd (a subsidiary of Bengaluru-based MRG Group) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with KDEM to build IT infrastructure in Mangaluru. We are doing future digital jobs events in all these clusters, where we are trying to identify talents and club them to the corporate sector.
DH: Any skill enhancement programmes in these clusters?
Naidu: KDEM also aims at enhancing the skills of the youth. KDEM will be supporting skill enhancement programmes with the support of the government. We have identified five to six areas like Artificial intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and others for skill enhancement programmes.
DH: How do you project Mangaluru in the next five years?
Naidu: At present, the Mangaluru region has 195 small and big IT and ITES companies. In the past six months, companies like Niveus Solution and Razorpay have also shown interest. We are trying to showcase the talents, showcase the existing companies and ecosystem. People across the country should know that big companies can also emerge from the Mangaluru cluster.