MeitY Startup Hub
You never have to wait long before Meta is back in the news again. After the Metaverse Insider covered Meta’s multiyear agreement with Qualcomm last week, the company “formerly known as Facebook” has its eyes set on India to make its mark in that country’s Metaverse ecosystem with the launch of a startup accelerator. The program — the latest of Meta’s involvement in the South Asian market’s efforts to upskill the workforce for the Web3 reality — is backed by Meta’s $50 million XR Programs and Research Fund and will include research on augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).
The program — to be implemented by four Indian institutions, including IIT Delhi — will also host a “grand challenge” for innovation in categories including education, healthcare, entertainment, agritech, climate action, sustainability and tourism, Meta said.
And the move makes sense for Meta, as it is in India that its Facebook and WhatsApp services have the most users.
The MeitY Startup Hub, combined with Meta, is called the XR Startup Program. Its main aim will be to collaborate with forty early-stage startups and aid them in R&D efforts while, at the same time, helping the companies with their products and services. Each startup, Meta said, will also receive a grant of over $25,000.
Starting off by selecting eighty startups to attend a bootcamp, it will also help startups with finding customers, inking relationships and raising funds, said Meta.
However, this is not the Silicon Valley giant’s first time working with startups in India. To date, Meta has supported three startups in the country, including social commerce platform Meesho and online education group Unacademy.
Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for Electronics & Information Technology and Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, said the program is especially aimed at helping encourage technology innovation in smaller cities and towns.
“India will play a pivotal role in defining future technologies. Decisions and investments made here in India now shape global discussions on how technology can deliver more economic opportunities and better outcomes for people. It is critical that we help to create an ecosystem that will enable India’s tech startups and innovators to build the foundations of the metaverse,” said Joel Kaplan, VP of Global Policy at Meta, in a statement.
While Ajit Mohan, VP and MD of Facebook India, said:
“India’s rapid tech adoption combined with a vast pool of tech talent puts the country in a vantage position for shaping the future of the internet.
For this future to be equitable, it will require active participation from all stakeholders, including developers, businesses, creators, policymakers, and entrepreneurs. We are excited to collaborate with MeitY Startup Hub and hope that the XR Startup Program will act as a catalyst to unlock the use of immersive technology across sectors like education, healthcare, agritech and tourism, not only in India but across the globe.”