LONDON: Kolkata has the opportunity to leapfrog other cities in India to establish a broad-based digital industry hub, particularly with a focus on smart manufacturing, analytics, Artificial Intelligence and related disciplines. These are the findings of “Kolkata 4.0: Developing an innovation ecosystem”, launched by the new Kolkata 4.0 Foundation (K4.0), Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and industry body techUK.
K4.0 is a not-for-profit initiative with a vision to create a networking platform for positive thinking on Kolkata, geared towards knowledge exchange, and connecting people and ideas.
The report issues six recommendations for developing an innovation ecosystem for Kolkata. First, the city must institutionalise the state government’s Startup Bengal initiatives. Currently, there is a lack of root-and-branch assistance for entrepreneurs to make this a reality. There must be a corpus created for promoting start-ups, for example where government procurement can allocate budgets for specifically buying from start-ups. In doing so, the government should act as a market-maker to promote the growth of the start-up economy.
Kolkata must promote entrepreneurship development in its educational institutions on a large scale. In higher education, it must build a dedicated technology transfer capability such that good ideas can be successfully commercialised. Finally, the report finds that Kolkata must build its brand more effectively internationally to communicate its successes and reduce the perception gap that exists even amongst its diaspora.
Tridibesh Banyopadhyay, co-founder of K4.0, said: “This report is the first real attempt to objectively compare Kolkata to other hubs across India, and identify specific, implementable ideas that could lead to the growth of the city in a way that engages the government, startups, corporates and its diaspora. The city’s diaspora is an untapped resource and we would like to create enabling platforms to facilitate it to take part in Kolkata’s growth.”
Report author Pratik Dattani, Managing Director of economic consulting firm EPG, said: “The report features deep analysis and an honest appraisal of where Kolkata is today and where it could be. The report was a bottom-up initiative, featuring insights from nearly two dozen interviews, including from policy-makers, entrepreneurs, startup hubs, government and diaspora.
Rajeev Singh, Secretary General of the ICC, said: “This year Bengal Global Summit showcased the best there is to offer in Kolkata, attracting significant international business interest. This report highlights some of those strengths, such as access to good education, growth in the IT sector, high quality of living and the growth of the Startup Bengal scheme.”
The Kolkata 4.0 Foundation is a not-for-profit initiative with a vision to create a networking platform for positive thinking on Kolkata, geared towards knowledge exchange, and connecting people and ideas. It’s main objective is to provide a platform for professionals living outside Kolkata but having an active interest to contribute to the future of the city, its knowledge and economic ecosystem through global studies, mentoring support and setting up knowledge-driven ventures in the city. More information at kolkata4.org.