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MeitY Startup Hub and Meta launch XR Startup Program  to foster future technologies and innovation

MeitY Startup Hub (MSH), an initiative of the Ministry of Electronics & IT (MeitY), and Meta today announced the launch of the XR Startup Program to help foster Extended Reality (XR) technologies in the country. This initiative, focused on skilling and building technological capabilities for the metaverse, will help shape the ecosystem for these emerging technologies, including Augmented Reality (AR) and  Virtual Reality (VR) in the country.

According to a recent study by the Analysis Group, the Metaverse is estimated to add $240 billion or 4.6% to India’s GDP by 2031, potentially impacting many aspects of existing economic influences from employment opportunities, specialized industries, infrastructure, and more.

The XR Startup Program will include an Accelerator and a Grand Challenge – that aim to boost the emerging tech ecosystem in the country and encourage innovation in a variety of sectors such as education, learning and healthcare amongst others.

Speaking on the occasion, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Hon’ble Minister of State for Electronics & Information Technology, and Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, said, “Immersive technologies like XR have the power to transform the digital landscape and can have significant economic benefits for the country.  I look forward to the collaboration with Meta and I hope it provides the necessary impetus towards fuelling the growth of investments in future technologies in line with the government vision for making India a trillion dollar economy by 2025. ”

Emphasising that the government’s policies and vision are empowering entrepreneurship opportunities, the Minister said that India today has a huge market for a host of digital services, platforms, applications, content, and solutions. “According to PM’s Digital India vision, India is no longer going to be a consumer of Technology but become a leader in producing emerging technologies. 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, 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.”

Speaking on the launch of XR Startup Program, Ajit Mohan, Vice President and Managing Director, Facebook India (Meta), said, “India’s rapid tech adoption combined with a vast pool of tech talent puts the country in a vantage position for shaping the future of the internet. For this future to be equitable, it will require active participation from all stakeholders, including developers, businesses, creators, policymakers, and entrepreneurs. We are excited to collaborate with MeitY Startup Hub and hope that the XR Startup Program will act as a catalyst to unlock the use of immersive technology across sectors like education, healthcare, agritech and tourism, not only in India but across the globe.

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.

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.

The Accelerator and Grand Challenge will also support start-ups and innovators with establishing customer connections, partnership opportunities and fundraising among other things.

Taking the collaboration ahead, Mr. Bhuvnesh Kumar, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology, remarked, “The collaboration with Meta will boost the investment landscape and act as a catalyst to nurture the startup ecosystem in the country, especially for technology startups.”

The XR Startup Program, will  be implemented by four institutions – International Institute of Information Technology – Hyderabad Foundation, Hyderabad,Telangana (CIE IIIT-H); 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. These institutions will strategically enable the startups across the length and breadth of the country creating a pan India movement in the XR technology space.

The XR Startup Program is supported by Meta’s XR Programs and Research Fund, a two-year $50 million investment in programs and external research with industry partners, civil rights groups, governments, nonprofits and academic institutions.

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