The IT Ministry’s MeitY Startup Hub (MSH) and Meta (formerly Facebook) on Tuesday launched a startup Programme to help 40 early-stage startups in India — with a grant of Rs 20 lakh each — create products and solutions based on Extended Reality (XR) technologies.
XR encompasses augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR).
The ‘XR Startup Programme’ will include an accelerator and a grand challenge to boost the emerging tech ecosystem in the country and encourage innovation in a variety of sectors such as education, learning and healthcare, among others.
“Immersive technologies like XR have the power to transform the digital landscape and can have significant economic benefits for the country,” said Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for Electronics & IT.
“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,” the minister added.
The grand challenge will shortlist 80 innovators and select 16 for further support contributing to the advancement of the XR technology ecosystem in the country.
Joel Kaplan, Vice President, Global Policy, Meta said that 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,” he noted.
This initiative will help shape the ecosystem for 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 per cent to India’s GDP by 2031.
“Young Indian startups, especially from tier 2 and 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,” said Chandrasekhar.
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 lakh each and further support to help them develop Minimum Viable Product (MVP)/ prototypes.
Ajit Mohan, Vice President and Managing Director, Facebook India (Meta), said that for the future to be equitable, it will require active participation from all stakeholders, including developers, businesses, creators, policymakers and entrepreneurs.
The MeitY programme is supported by Meta’s XR Programs and Research Fund, a two-year $50 million investment.