NEW DELHI: India has done well in the area of software services and can become a big centre for software products especially since the entire ecosystem of payments, favourable policies and the technology is already in place, said union minister for electronics, IT and communications. India can also develop as a centre for deep technology, Prasad said.
“There are 23,000 startups and 800 are technological startups and out of them 21 are ‘unicorns’…But when I see global number of unicorns, that number is 400 plus and so there is a case for greater mentorship and encouragement,” he said.
Prasad was speaking at an event co-hosted by the ministry of electronics and IT(MEITY) to launch a host of new initiatives including the the MeitY Startup Hub (MSH), the second phase of the BHIM scheme, the Indian Software Product Registry and selected Incubation Centres under the Technology Incubation Development for Entrepreneurs 2.0 (TIDE 2.0).
While the MSH will act as a platform to connect with incubators, accelerators, mentors, and eventually, angel funds and venture capitalists, the Indian Software Product Industry will act as a single window portal for cataloguing for all companies and products developed in India with key analytics, category-wise listing with options of porting database to Government e-Marketplace (GeM) for enhanced market access.
TIDE 2.0 is aimed at strengthening close to 2000 technology startups in areas of national concern by leveraging emerging technologies and empowering 51 incubation centers across India.
Prasad said that the ministry will digitally map innovative products by small entrepreneurs and artisans in villages across India. The initiative on having such a digital catalogue of enterprises and entrepreneurs should be coordinated by CSC, and other entities, he said. India should become a big centre for patent and Intellectual Property, Prasad said adding that patent clearance timelines should be brought down to a maximum of one year. Responding to industry’s concerns of patent clearances taking almost 4.5 years at times, the minister said: “our patent clearance must be completed in a year’s time” and assured the industry of his full support on the issue.
Prasad also asked technology companies to come forward and support the government in the Digital Villages program. “I appeal to the tech giants…we are going to set up one lakh digital villages in coming few years. Should I expect some of you to patronise and mentor those digital villages in your own way. They should become centres of empowerment and entrepreneurship,” he said.
The government also flagged off the updated version of the Bharat Interface for Mobile scheme (BHIM) making it with enhanced functionalities including increasing the existing cap of Rs. 20,000 and now up to Rs. 1,00,000 from verified merchants. The Bhim app, a UPI based payment interface developed by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) allowing real time fund transfer, was launched in December, 2016. Other features include a ‘donation’ gateway, linking multiple bank accounts, option of applying in IPO, gifting money and option of accessing in three additional languages over and above the existing 13.
Prasad also gave out awards under the DigiDhan Mission Awards 2019 and the MeitY-NASSCOM Startup Women Entrepreneur Award 2019 (Software Products) to outstanding women entrepreneurs in six categories. He also said that outstanding work across the government sector also needs to be rewarded.
Citing success stories of technology platforms Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and GSTN (GST-Network), the Minister said government entities such as NIC, STPI should also become competitive. “For Digital India to succeed, the government entities must also become competitive. I have told National Informatics Centre (NIC) that your people have to become competitive and innovative…they have changed. Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) also must change,” the Minister said.
The National Policy on Software Products 2019, which was cleared by the Cabinet earlier this year has a vision to create a robust Indian Software Product development ecosystem. One of the key focus areas of the policy is to promote tech entrepreneurship in the country and help Indian software product startups to scale up quickly to become $70-80 Billion market by 2025. Prasad said there is compelling case for social startups and that these should be encouraged so they unleash their power in India’s changing digital narrative.