The Narendra Modi-led Government has set the states competing with each other, for their own benefit though, to grab the first position in one field or the other: if Odisha topped in the Smart Cities Challenge, Goa is leaving no stone unturned to emerge as the startup capital of India. Ameya Abhyankar, Director- IT & Special Secretary to Chief Minister, speaks to Gautam Debroy of Elets News Network (ENN).
At one of Elets Technomedia events last year, Goa released its IT Investment Policy 2015-20, which highlighted data about startups in Goa. What are your thoughts regarding this?
The Information Technology Department and the Government of Goa looks at startups as the next big thing that will happen in India. We want Goa to be the “Startup Capital” of this country. We want people to come here, settle, design, develop and come out with concepts and ideas from different walks of life.
So, in our IT policy, we’ve paid special attention to startups, both within incubators and also anywhere. We have also come up with a host of incentives for them in terms of discounted internet bandwidths, one-time seed capital and alike.
We want to take this forward with a focused emphasis on startups in the form of a startup policy in times to come.
“We want Goa to be the ‘Startup Capital’ of India. We want people to come here, settle, design, develop and come out with concepts and ideas… In our IT policy, we’ve offered a host of incentives to them”
What would be your strategy to attract startup that are working outside Goa?
In Goa, there are more than 200 IT companies. Few people know about this. In February, we held a “Hackathon” in our department where we had created a site called www.goamade.com, which is a crowdsourced site and around 30-35 Goabased companies have registered themselves. The idea was to create an IT directory which will be a single window to all the IT companies, which are there in Goa.
There are lots of incubators, which are incubating a lot of startups and I think we have a good ecosystem which needs to have visibility and skilling.
What is your take on the emerging concepts, like smart cities and startups, as a whole?
Startups and smart cities have a lot of convergence with each other. In a smart city, decisions that citizens make on day-to-day basis in real time result in saving time, increasing convenience, improving quality of life, reducing the overall stress level, etc. And, I think there are different IT startups which power each one of these verticals. There are apps which can tell you about availability of parking space and accordingly you can decide whether you want to take your car or avail public transport.
Even in the case of public transport, you don’t know when the next bus is arriving. Here, IoT comes into the picture again. So, there is lot of convergence.
“Panaji was not there in the first smart city list, but it has secured a place in the second one. I think Panaji would be a fertile ground to experiment with new and innovative ideas related to smart cities…”
In Goa, Panaji has been selected as a city to be made “smart”. What is your opinion about that?
Panaji was not there in the first smart city list, but it has secured a place in the second one. I think Panaji would be a fertile ground to experiment with new and innovative ideas related to smart cities, and I think the departments concerned have already made a pretty good proposal in this regard. Whatever support will be required from the IT Department, we are ever-ready to provide that.
You talked about startups, smart cities, etc. What are the big challenges, according to you, facing the execution of these concepts?
One is internet for sure. Goa does have issues of bandwidth on which we need to work upon and arrive at a resolution. Secondly, I think despite the presence of every possible smart city component here, we need to be organised into an ecosystem. These, according to me, are the two biggest challenges present as far as linking of the concepts of smart cities and startups are concerned.