Vision ‘100 Cube’ could turn Odisha into a startup hub

India ranks among the world’s top three countries assessed in terms of startup ecosystems, and is expected to see a consistent year-on-year growth of 12-15%.
India ranks among the world’s top three countries assessed in terms of startup ecosystems, and is expected to see a consistent year-on-year growth of 12-15%.

Summary

  • The project’s incubatory aim of having 100 Odisha-based large startups by 2036 when the state marks 100 years of statehood could deliver a Viksit Odisha in support of our drive towards a Viksit Bharat.

In the epoch of technological revolutions and economic transformations, India stands at a pivotal juncture, heralding a new era of innovation and entrepreneurship. Indian startups, which have placed the country on the global canvas, will play a critical role in harnessing the potential of our youth in building a Viksit Bharat and making India a global economic powerhouse, as envisioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Significant propulsion for this growth shall undoubtedly come from the country’s eastern regions. Envisioned in the Purvodaya concept, our government walks the talk with a particular focus on states like Odisha, as established again in budgetary announcements made earlier this month.

Helped by reform-friendly policies and programmes over the last decade, India’s youth have ventured into startups, which are expected to drive India in Amrit Kaal. The latent potential for a vibrant startup ecosystem in Odisha that awaits its full realization finds profound resonance whenever I interact with the youngsters of my state.

Consider the ‘100 Cube’ initiative, which aims to catalyse this transformation, envisioning 100 Odia and Odisha-based startups, each reaching a valuation of 100 crore by 2036—a momentous year for Odisha as it will complete 100 years of statehood.

India ranks among the world’s top three countries assessed in terms of startup ecosystems, and is expected to see a consistent year-on-year growth of 12-15%. India’s youthful demographic advantage serves as a fertile ground for startups.

India has witnessed record foreign investment (FDI) flows in recent years, reaching a staggering $71 billion in 2022-23, a figure that is expected to hit $100 billion in 2023-24, with substantial portions of it going into innovation and entrepreneurial ventures.

Startups have witnessed exponential growth since early 2016, after Prime Minister Modi launched the Startup India initiative. The number of recognized startups in India had reached 117,000 by the end of 2023, compared with only 400 in 2016. These startups have created nearly 1.3 million direct jobs and other positive spin-offs for the economy.

The Union budget has extended tax benefits for startups, providing a fillip to this sector. Our government already had a 100% tax rebate scheme for eligible startups on profits made for three years over a 10-year operation period.

This year’s budget also earmarked a significant 1 trillion fund, with a 50-year interest-free loan, dedicated to nurturing India’s new-age technology-savvy startups.

Odisha, historically known as a hub of innovation and commerce, boasts a rich legacy from the Kalinga Empire and its significant contributions to astronomy by scholars like Pathani Samanta. Its ancient seafaring culture positioned it as a critical player in maritime trade and innovation in commercial activities such as shipbuilding.

However, the state now faces challenges such ‘brain drain,’ with many talented individuals moving elsewhere for better opportunities. This shift underscores the need to revitalize Odisha’s innovative spirit to harness its historical prowess for modern economic growth and development within the state.

Under the Prime Minister’s Purvodaya vision, the government of India is bolstering Odisha’s educational framework with hefty investments in premier institutions, aiming to nurture a new generation of innovators and entrepreneurs. The establishment of IIT Bhubaneswar, IIM Sambalpur, IISER Berhampur and Skill Development Institute in Bhubaneswar, among others, represents a strategic infusion of resources totalling thousands of crores.

These investments are pivotal in creating an ecosystem that supports advanced learning, research and skill development, all of it tailored to meet the evolving demands of global and national markets.

The Research and Entrepreneurship Park at IIT Bhubaneswar shall facilitate the co-development and co-production of critical and emerging technologies, and help the state ride the Industrial Revolution 4.0 wave. It aims to carry out research focusing on the development of products meant for industrial and societal applications.

The focus of the 100 Cube project shall be to showcase the potential of the state and bring together various stakeholders, including the Union government, industrialists, funding agencies, successful startups and foreign players on one hand, and young scholars from Odisha, local entrepreneurs and academic faculty members on the other to ignite the idea of nurturing a vibrant startup ecosystem in Odisha over the next 10-12 years.

The Viksit Bharat vision demands that priority be given to new-age skills, futuristic tech, artificial intelligence (AI) and innovation. A Viksit Odisha has the potential to lead this transformation, with our collective ambition captured by 100 Cube.

In this future, Odisha’s startups will stand tall among the world’s best, driving innovation, creating employment and shaping a sustainable and prosperous future. Together, we can achieve the 100 Cube vision, taking Odisha and India towards unprecedented heights.

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