The Startup Hub, a Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) initiative, is a national platform that will foster technological innovation, startups, and intellectual property creation. MeitY Startup Hub (MSH) and Meta announced the launch of an accelerator program to support and accelerate extended reality (XR) technology startups across India on September 13, 2022.
The Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) at IIIT Hyderabad (IIITH) got selected as one of four implementation partners for the program across the country on September 16, 2022. The initiative will focus on skilling and developing technological capabilities for the metaverse, as well as helping to shape the ecosystem for emerging technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) in the country.
The Accelerator Program will provide INR 20 lakhs ($25,000) in grants to 40 early-stage startups working in XR technologies. The Grand Challenge will also encourage early-stage innovators in education, skill development, healthcare, gaming, agritech, climate action, and tourism.
For the grand challenge, innovators will be assisted in progressing from the R&D phase to developing marketable products and services. Initially, 80 innovators will be chosen to attend a boot camp, from which 16 will receive grants of INR 20 lakhs each and additional assistance in developing Minimum Viable Product (MVP) prototypes.
Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Union Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology, said, “It is an important milestone in the area of Metaverse, which is an important part of the emerging future of the internet, and I hope it provides the necessary impetus towards fueling the growth of investments in future technologies in line with the government’s vision of making India a trillion-dollar economy by 2025.”
The use cases on which IIIT Hyderabad will concentrate will be in the gaming and entertainment domains. Startups will benefit from industry expert mentorship, IIITH technology support and research connections, and the opportunity to present at industry events.
Meta’s Vice President of Global Policy, Joel Kaplan, said, “India will be critical in defining future technologies. Decisions and investments in India now shape global discussions about how technology can increase economic opportunity and improve people’s lives. We must contribute to developing an ecosystem allowing India’s tech startups and innovators to lay the groundwork for the metaverse.”
XR technologies are poised to change the way we perceive the entertainment industry. XR technologies can make movies much more immersive. Users can participate in virtual concerts or throw virtual parties. Sports broadcasting can be completely reinvented with the ability to visit stadiums virtually.
“The XR Startup Program could pave the way for faster AR and VR technologies adoption in the entertainment and gaming industries. This will benefit early-stage companies greatly because they will receive assistance from their established counterparts in funding and mentoring, “said Anubhav Tiwari, Head DeepTech and MedTech Incubator, CIE, IIIT Hyderabad Foundation.