Hubballi (Karnataka), July 17 : A brownfield Electronics System Design and Manufacturing (ESDM) cluster was unveiled on Tuesday in this north Karnataka's industrial city, ostensibly, to decongest a choked Bengaluru, about 400 km away.
Located at Sandbox start-up facility of Deshpande Foundation, the cluster will be developed as the next electronics hotspot in the southern state.
Set up by technocrat Gururaj Deshpande and his wife Jaishree as a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in 1996, the Foundation helps to accelerate creation of sustainable and scalable enterprises for socio-economic impact.
"The cluster aligns with our government's vision to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the state's northern region, which is endowed with rich human capital and abundant natural resources," said state IT-BT Minister K.J. George on the occasion.
A senior cabinet member in the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S)-Congress coalition government, George also holds portfolios of Science and Technology and Major and Medium Industries. He was the Bengaluru Development Minister in the previous Congress government.
The minister also unveiled a Very Large-Scale Integration (VLSI) incubation centre at the privately-run KLE Technological University in the city.
"The incubation centre will promote entrepreneurship and create skilled manpower to make the state a global choice for innovation and technology," reiterated George.
Spread over 6,000 square feet, the cluster has a lab with testing tools and equipment to enable start-ups to move from idea to prototyping, reducing iterations in the product development lifecycle.
North Karnataka and Hubballi-Dharwad are emerging as one of the growing technology hubs in the country, as the region has resources to make printed circuit boards, the building blocks of all electronics products.
In the absence of such a cluster, local manufacturers and integrators have been going to Bengaluru or Pune in neighbouring Maharashtra for their PCB needs, leading to time and cost overruns.
"The ESDM cluster will also support start-ups and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) from incubation centres to expand their capacity," added the minister.
The ESDM cluster has infrastructure designed to support start-ups in automotive, instrumentation, consumer durables, medical and telecom.
As a technology business incubator, Sandbox provides mentorship, networking opportunities, resources and access to funding to mission driven entrepreneurs.
"The entrepreneurs test, pilot and prove their ideas/models in Sandbox. Till date, about 30 enterprises in agri-tech, IoT, 3D printing software services were supported to create jobs for about 500 youth and generate Rs 100 crore revenue since 2015," said Deshpande.
The state government will provide Rs 4 crore to the ESDM and VLSI incubation centres over the next three years to make them sustainable.