Priyank Kharge, the minister for social welfare of Karnataka state, has said that the state government is currently focussing on to have an "innovation legal framework" for startups in the state to address the problem of no proper legal guidelines for startups operating in the state. The problem was with the government’s inability to move fast enough with changes," said Kharge, who was earlier holding portfolio of IT and Bio-Tech, Science & Technology Department, in the previous Karnataka state government.

Explaining the dire need for legal framework, Kharge cited an example of RedBus saying that, "RedBus today are actually operating illegally, as the government has no legal framework for them".

It is to noted that this is not the first time Kharge has discussed this problem as in March this year Kharge, at that time too, had spoken about making a legal framework to help startups struggling with government regulations. Its just that, at that time Kharge, instead of RedBus cited an example of startups like Uber and Ola, which -- in 2016 -- had to temporarily stop their cab operations in Bengaluru until they obtained the required ‘cab aggregator’ licenses from the transport department.

“Our focus is to have an innovation legal framework in Karnataka. We can all agree that government policies are constantly having to play catch up. Even abroad, Uber had problems in Spain; they stopped their services in London; they had issues in Chicago; they exited China. The No.1 reason is because of policy - there was no such thing as aggregating taxis before,” Kharge said at the Shell Energy Entrepreneurship Conference 2018 in Bengaluru.

“Right now look at Red-Bus -- the way they are operating, there are no specific guidelines for them, no policy. It is actually illegal. We have a very redundant Motor Vehicles Act. So technically there is no policy for carpooling, for aggregating. Policies are playing catch up with technology and hence we are coming up with an innovation legal framework,” he said.

Any new innovation requires a policy intervention, said the minister. “Whether it is for RedBus, Uber or whether it is for an ecommerce company like Amazon or Flipkart. We don’t intend to stop any innovation that is happening. They will be given time and enough elbow room to function as a company. We don’t even look to regulate them immediately, but we look at these ideas having a legal framework so that they can grow exponentially,” Kharge said.

The minister said Karnataka has the fourth best R&D ecosystem in the world and the best in India, with more than 400 R&D centres in the state. “We also have the youngest startup ecosystem in the world, where the average age of founders is 26 years.

Additionally, Kharge also announced that the Karnataka government would grant Rs 50 lakh to startups that have a strong social focus and are working for rural development in the state. Moreover, the state govt. also intends to adopt a startup currently being incubated in Shell E4 for piloting as part of his department’s efforts related to manual scavenging.

In March, Kharge, under different ministerial portfolio, launched Start-up Policy and a new entrepreneurship scheme, under which Rs 30,000 per month would be provided to any entrepreneur for a year while they incubate their idea with Karnataka's startup cell.

"To encourage any innovation that will be focused at rural development and well-being with a strong social impact, my department will be willing to support startups across the state with a grant of Rs 50 lakh," announced Kharge on the sidelines of the conference organised by Shell E4.

Shell E4 (Energizing and Enabling Energy Entrepreneurs) programme aims to foster a vibrant ecosystem of energy entrepreneurs by bringing together talent, technology, capital and know-how to accelerate India's transition towards a sustainable energy future.

Launched in 2017, Shell E4 Hub is located in the Shell Technology Centre Bangalore, which provides start-ups with round-the-clock proximity to Shell subject matter expert.

Earlier this year, Shell selected five startups - Detect Technologies, ION Energy, IoTrek, Trashcon and Ossus Biorenewables that are working on a diverse range of solution.

Content sourced from Times of India.

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