The Karnataka government is offering land and other incentives to investors to set up IT firms in smaller towns and cities beyond Bangalore in a bid to ensure that the state remains a prime destination in the knowledge sector.
"We are working on a hub-and-spoke model to attract investments in the knowledge sector with a two-pronged strategy. By positioning Bangalore as the hub and tier-two cities across the state as spokes, we want to ensure Karnataka remains the favourite IT destination in India," state Information Technology secretary MN Vidyashankar told IANS.
"The new strategy will also help de-congest Bangalore and facilitate the uniform growth of secondary cities like Mysore, Mangalore, Hubli, Belgaum and Gulbarga with infrastructure, connectivity and human resources," the official said, listing a series of public-private partnership initiatives.
With Bangalore remaining the hot destination for IT investors, especially multinational companies, the government has set aside a massive 10,000 acres of land at Bidadi, about 30 km from the hi-tech city, for a planned Knowledge City with world class facilities.
The land has already been acquired and earmarked for IT and IT-enabled services, including outsourcing and call centers.
In all, 32 infrastructure players, including foreign firms, have bid for the global tender floated by the government. The bids will be opened in the next two months, Vidyashankar said.
A second project has developed around the upcoming international airport at Devanahalli, about 35 km from here, with the Karnataka Industrial Development Board in the process of building an electronic hardware technology park over 1,400 acres of land near the airport.
The first phase of the park, spread over 450 acres, will be developed in the next 12 months to coincide with the launch of the Bangalore international airport in April 2008.
The state IT department is also helping academic-cum-industry majors set up 'IT finishing schools'. The idea is to spread employment by training engineering graduates from towns and rural areas, who will then be placed directly in software and hardware firms across the state.
"Karnataka is the first state in the country to facilitate such novel IT schools, which will enable tech graduates hailing from secondary cities, towns and rural areas to get absorbed in the knowledge sector with the right skills, aptitude and competitive spirit.
"The strategy is to not only bridge the growing demand-supply gap, but also make sure talent pools are readily available for the knowledge firms setting up or expanding their operations in secondary cities like Mysore, Mangalore, Hubli, Bellary, Belgaum, Gulbarga and Raichur," Vidyashankar said.
The government has given the green signal to the Raman Institute of Information Technology (RIIT) to set up the first such IT finishing school in Mysore. With an up-front investment of Rs 120 million, it aims to train about 5,000 engineering graduates every year.
Banks such as Syndicate Bank have offered to provide loans up to Rs 75,000 to prospective graduate trainees, with a five-year repayment schedule.
The second IT finishing school is to be set up by the Dayanand Sagar Educational Institute on the outskirts of Bangalore. And Dale Carnegie, a leading US-based soft skills training institute, has offered to set up the third school at the upcoming Bidadi Knowledge City, Vidyashankar said.