16 September 2022, Hyderabad: MeitY Startup Hub (MSH), an initiative of the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology, GoI, and Meta, on 14 Sept 2022, announced the launch of XR Startup Program to support and accelerate XR technology startups across India. This initiative, focuses on skilling and building technological capabilities for the metaverse and will help shape the ecosystem for the emerging technologies, including Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) in the country.
IIIT Hyderabad foundation (CIE) is selected as one of the 4 implementation partners for the program across the country.
The Accelerator Program will support 40 early-stage start-ups working in XR technologies with a grant of Rs 20 lakhs each. Further, the Grand Challenge will encourage early-stage innovators in sectors like Education, Learning and Skills, Healthcare, Gaming and Entertainment, Agritech & Climate Action and Tourism & Sustainability. For the grand challenge the innovators will be provided support to upscale from the R&D phase to developing workable products and services. At first 80 innovators will be shortlisted to attend a bootcamp, out of which, a total of 16 innovators will be provided grants of Rs 20 lakhs each and further support to help them develop Minimum Viable Product (MVP)/ prototypes.
Speaking on the occasion, the Union Minister of State for Electronics & Information Technology, and Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar said, “It is an important day in terms of achieving Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s vision of making the next 10 years as India’s Techade – full of opportunities for young Indians. It is also an important milestone in area of Metaverse which is an important part of emerging future of the internet. I look forward to the collaboration with Meta and I hope it provides the necessary impetus towards fueling the growth of investments in future technologies in line with the government vision for making India a trillion-dollar economy by 2025.”
Speaking on how the Digital India Programme launched in 2015 has transformed citizens lives, governance & democracy, catalysed India’s Digital economy & created significant capabilities in emerging technologies, the Minister said “According to PM’s Digital India vision, it is clear that India is no longer going to be a consumer of Technology but become a leader in producing emerging technologies”.
Emphasising on the potential of Indian Startups from tier 2/3 cities & how the Narendra Modi government is committed in encouraging them, the Minister further added, “Young Indian Startups, especially from tier 2/3 cities, will play a significant role in emerging tech areas like Web 3.0, blockchain, AI, Metaverse etc. and will shape the future of technology and the internet for India and the world.
Sharing his views on the collaboration, Mr. Joel Kaplan, Vice President, Global Policy, Meta, said, “India will play a pivotal role in defining future technologies. Decisions and investments made here in India now shape global discussions on how technology can deliver more economic opportunity and better outcomes for people. It is critical that we help to create an ecosystem that will enable India’s tech startups and innovators to build the foundations of the metaverse.”
The use cases that IIITH will be focusing are from gaming and entertainment domains. Startups will be benefited with mentorship by industry expert, IIITH technology support and research connect as well as opportunity to present at industry events. Extended Reality comes from the combination of AR, VR and MR technologies. Gaming in the metaverse helps the user experience the game in real time while also allowing them to interact better with other gamers in a multiplayer environment. VR also helps the gamer control the playable characters better unlocking the complete potential of gaming.
“The XR startup program could be a breakthrough to the quicker integration of AR and VR technologies in the entertainment and gaming industry. This will give lot of boost to early stage companies since they will be getting help from their established counterparts through funding and mentoring,” said Anubhav Tiwari (Head DeepTech and MedTech Incubator, CIE, IIIT Hyderabad Foundation)
XR technologies are set to redefine how we see the entertainment industry. Users can join virtual concerts or host virtual parties. Movies can be made much more immersive with the XR technologies. Sports broadcasting can be completely reinvented with people being able to actually visit stadiums virtually. The use cases of this technology go much beyond what we can imagine. Classrooms can be brought to life with simulations of what is being taught and social media can go as far as letting people meet in the virtual world and allow first person interaction with each other.
For the XR Startup Program, other implementation partners along with IIITH Foundation (CIE) are AIC SMU Technology Business Incubation Foundation (AIC-SMUTBI), Rangpo, Sikkim; Gujarat University Startup and Entrepreneurship Council (GUSEC), Ahmedabad, Gujarat and Foundation for Innovation and Technology Transfer (FITT), IIT Delhi, New Delhi.