Belagavi moved a step closer to becoming a smart city by getting its own innovation hub, on Tuesday.

Minister for IT/BT and ST, Large and Medium Scale Industries, including Sugar, K.J. George inaugurated K-Tech Innovation Hub (K-TI Hubs) at Hanuman Nagar here. He went around the laboratories in the hub and interacted with resource persons.

He said that the government decided to establish these facilities in tier II cities to leverage the existing manufacturing clusters and the local human resource available in the academic and industrial bodies. “We will engage with key stakeholders in the local ecosystem for the sustainability of these facilities,” he said.

The hub provides space and infrastructure, instrumentation, prototyping facilities, business set-up support, world class innovation network and connections under one roof. The K-Tech Innovation Hub is a “Product Start-up Incubator-cum-Common Instrumentation Facility” located in an 8,000-sq ft building. The government intends to establish five such K-TI Hubs across the State. The Belagavi hub is based on the IKP EDEN (IKP Engineering, Design and Entrepreneurship Network) model set up in Bengaluru in September 2015, according to the Minister.

“The government appointed IKP Knowledge Park, a Science Park and Technology Business Incubator, to set up five innovation hubs in the State, to encourage innovations, stimulate entrepreneurship by acting as catalysts, create technology-based start-ups, provide employment and opportunities for re-skilling and fuel economic growth,” he said.

He hoped that the K-TI Hubs contribute to the goal of encouraging 6,000 product-based start-ups in the State as envisaged in the Start-up Policy 2025.

“We envision Karnataka as the innovation and technology capital of the world. Towards this end, we are creating a robust ecosystem where all stakeholders thrive from the support provided and mentorship. Disruptive technologies are the new thing in the technology-based industry. With opportunities that these technologies provide, this innovation centre is poised to help the State achieve its vision of retaining the leadership position as India’s start-up capital,” he said.

“The 2020 plan of the government is to make Belagavi a technology super-centre in five years. A tech park is planned at Belagavi. Entrepreneurs, start-ups and SMEs should be able to walk in and walk out of Belagavi as successful companies with the same ease as it is in the Silicon Valley, or Israel or our very own Bengaluru. We hope to grow not just the IT industry in Belagavi but also the manufacturing and hardware product development ecosystem here,” Mr. George said.

Deepanwita Chattopadhyay, Chairman and CEO, IKP Knowledge Park, said that the hub would focus on engineering, bio-engineering, prototyping and other sectors, depending on the needs of small and medium enterprises. “We can accommodate up to 70 start-ups. We provide mentoring, funding, infrastructure, technical support and other facilities. Entrepreneurs can walk in with an idea and walk out with a product,’’ she said.

Experienced resource persons will evaluate the idea and see its market potential. Then, the necessary technical environment would be created to help turn the idea into a design and a product. Handholding will be done at every stage, she said. She has already spoken to faculties of some local engineering colleges to attune them towards motivating students to be tech entrepreneurs. “We will also organise hackathons and tech exhibitions for engineering students,” she said.

Gaurav Gupta, Principal Secretary, Industries, IT/BT and Science and Technology, was present.

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