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Kerala startups should lead India’s semiconductor transformation

“We are finally living at a time when a semiconductor engineer is also a Superhero — that itself tells you how far our country has come, how far we have progressed in the age of technology under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi ji,” Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar said while addressing students, researchers, industry leaders and members from ISRO in Kerala today at the 4th Semicon India FutureDesign Roadshow.

Here the Minister facilitated an MoU between IBM and C-DAC which will aim to accelerate India’s Processor Design and manufacturing capabilities for High Performance Computing. This event took place at the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST).

He also announced that the upcoming Bharat Semiconductor Research Centre (BSRC) will have a regional centre at IIST, Thiruvananthapuram, catalysing the city’s startup and tech ecosystem.

To significantly boost the electronics, IT sector, and startup ecosystem in Kerala, the Union Minister of State for Electronics & IT, Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, and Jal Shakti Rajeev Chandrasekhar also inaugurated the new Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) centres in Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi.

These centres are poised to play a crucial role in strengthening the IT infrastructure of Kerala, providing state-of-the-art facilities to emerging tech startups, thereby enabling them to innovate, grow, and compete on a global scale.

Following the inauguration, the Minister toured the Incubation Centre and engaged with startups. The Minister engaged in a discussion on the theme “catalysing Tech Startups in Kerala,”.

During his interaction with S Somanath, Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), he said, “There is tremendous opportunity for Thiruvananthapuram to be a great catalyst for the growth of India’s Digital Economy. The newly inaugurated STPI centres in Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi will bring the state on track to becoming the largest technology hub in South India while boosting the state’s startup ecosystem. Despite having one of India’s first technoparks set up in the city back in the 1990s, it is a shame that today, Thiruvananthapuram is not even in the top 20 of the startup innovation economy. The lack of political vision by the UDF and LDF-led state governments made Kerala not only miss the bus but also get off the train of development altogether. Under PM Narendra Modi ji’s leadership, we will strive to ensure that the next wave of innovation comes from Kerala with young Keralites being its driving force.”

During his address at the FutureDesign Roadshow, Rajeev Chandrasekhar provided a comprehensive overview of the semiconductor ecosystem in India and highlighted its significant progress over the past 2.5 years.

The Minister said, “This is the most exciting for India in the semiconductor ecosystem, I would like startups and Young Indians in Kerala to also join this journey of progress. The growth, success, and opportunities we are witnessing in this sector, in the coming years, we will only see that it will expand and accelerate. Digitization and the intensity of technology in our lives, enterprises, and governments around the world are only increasing at an unprecedented rate. Even segments which were counterintuitive to embracing technology—government and governance, public services, water supply, subsidy delivery, things that were absolutely outside the ambit—are now embracing tech. This presents a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs of today and tomorrow to be part of, almost be at the starting line of designing and reimagining the systems of tomorrow, devices, and products of tomorrow. It is with that background that we have launched FutureDESIGN”

The Minister then elaborated on the FutureDESIGN, emphasizing how this program aims to empower startups and foster an Indian innovation ecosystem in the field of semiconductors.

“For 70-75 years, we have done very little in the field of semiconductors except for what ISRO & DRDO have accomplished. India was absent from the global ecosystem of semiconductor design—talent from India was flowing to global R&D and continues to do so. You are the luckiest generation of students in Independent India. Here is a Government, an industry coming to you and saying we are offering you opportunities, roadmap and funding to do something, build something of your own,” the Minister explained.

He further highlighted how the country is moving at a very fast pace with global majors setting up their units in India.

“We are already growing at a fast pace, Apple recently acknowledged that around 12-15% of their device manufacturing and global GVCs will be in India by 2027-2029. We expect the semiconductor market to grow by $110 billion by then. Our PM has laid out that as much as we are ambitious about manufacturing, we also want to be leaders in design, IP, and innovation. This is not just limited to manufacturing-led performance but design and innovation-led performance,” the Minister further added.

On the point of further building an “Atmanirbhar Bharat”, he said that the Govt is sparing no effort in creating a vibrant ecosystem.

“Right now, about Rs 1,000 crore have been allotted by the Government in this area to fund startups. Central to this is the belief by our PM that in this coming decade, the India Techade—will be shaping Indian startups and large companies as well—so there is a role for young Indians and startups. Innovating semiconductor design across a broad spectrum of applications—from automobiles, mobile, compute, and next-gen design startups—catalyzing IP, co-development, and joint ownerships. We are doubling down on a strategy that includes RISC V and IBM’s Power—these two families will be the Indian families of semiconductors around which we will build multiple applications—microprocessors, IoT among others. Today, we have seen around 26 billion dollars of investment proposals—Micron, Tower, PSMC Taiwan, and TATAS are building multi-billion-dollar manufacturing facilities. Every global name in Semicon today has an R&D centre in India. We have created a very vibrant, fast-charging, globally competitive startup ecosystem in the last two years. I want you to be part of the journey and want you to be part of the semiconductor ecosystem,” he added.

Senior industry members from the semiconductor industry and ISRO were also present who highlighted how the Government has built an innovation ecosystem that will create a bright future.

Dr S Unnikrishnan Nair, Director VSSC & IIST, Thiruvananthapuram said, “In ISRO and IIST we are deeply committed to the ideas of ‘Make in India’ and ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ in our pursuit of excellence in space technology. A vibrant semiconductor manufacturing ecosystem within the country will help the space sector in implementing new designs for complex missions. The Government under the leadership of PM Modi is making rapid strides in this very critical and strategic area. Ministers like Hon’ble Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar understand that semiconductors are not a game for today or tomorrow but it is a day after tomorrow and the down the road game.”

Dr V Narayanan, Director of Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC), ISRO, said, “It is a great honour for all of us in ISRO, that Hon’ble Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar is here. He is a leader, a dynamic personality, a person who has made significant contributions in his tenure as the Minister of State during the last 5 years. We have been an independent country for the last 76 years, and we have come a long way in almost all sectors. For the nation to become Viksit Bharat multiple sectors and areas need to develop in a big way — electronics and semiconductor development is a key sector in this regard. And I am pleased that our Hon’ble Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar is a champion in this area and has made a remarkable contribution.”

Vishal Dhupar, Managing Director, South Asia, NVIDIA said, “The opportunity is very much ours, we can make India not only the ‘back office of the world’ but make it ‘the office’ of the world, build the Intelligence here and export the intelligence to the world.”
CT Bureau

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