Social networking giant Facebook is expanding its scope of operations in the country. With a view to build an ecosystem for startups working in emerging technologies, it has announced two new programmes in India -- an exclusive 6-month Accelerator programme, for which Facebook will shortlist 10 VR-based startups in India, and a School of Innovation for engineering students.

The Accelerator is being launched in association with tech incubator T-Hub, the biggest startup incubator in the country. It launched the India Innovation Hub at the T-Hub, marking the Global Entrepreneurship summit, which will begin on Tuesday in Hyderabad.

“For now, we are starting off with Virtual Reality. We will later cover other emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. The short-listed 10 start-ups will get tools developed by us,” Satyajeet Singh, Head of Platform Partnerships, Facebook India and South Asia, told reporters.

“We will shortlist about 20 start-ups and, then, pick the final ten for the accelerator programme. They will get mentorship and access to VR Innovation lab to test their products. Applications for the Innovation Hub program will be open from January 2018,” he said.

Facebook has about 21.7 crore users in the country, including 40 lakh pages for small businesses. Over 60,000 small businesses were trained by Facebook in tapping the social media potential.

School of Innovation

“We are also setting up a School of Innovation in association with Startup Village to build talent in various emerging technologies. We will pick 10 student teams to help them work on their ideas in Virtual Reality,” he said.

The 10 teams will undergo a 20-week programme, where they will be taught how to translate their ideas into products and to find customers.

These two programmes will run parallel to other startup- focussed initiatives like FbStart that are run by Facebook already, for last couple of years.

Facebook, which counts India as its largest userbase after the US, has 217 million users here.

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