The state government of Andhra Pradesh recently unveiled its much awaited IT policy for 2021-24. In the waiting for over a year now the new IT policy aims to attract investments into this key sector while also lays emphasis on building the necessary infrastructure, promoting new technologies, innovation and startup and skill development.
In addition it also looks to make the IT, E&C department into a self-sustainable department.
‘The vision of the policy is to transform the IT, E&C department into a revenue centre to achieve self-sustenance and to generate large scale local employment in IT/ITeS sector with specific focus on innovation and emerging technologies and ensure public data security’ stated the new IT policy 2021-24.
From developing concept cities to IT parks to giving preference to local IT firms for procurement the policy aims to hit all the right notes. Most of the IT leaders Vizag Industrial Scan spoke to were upbeat on the state’s new IT policy and its promising vision however felt that the key lied in its effective execution.
‘The new IT Policy is simple and attractive’ said Mr Sreedhar, President of Andhra Pradesh’s IT Association of Andhra Pradesh which has been closely involved in giving the government eclectic views and inputs in the making of the policy.
“The new IT Policy is simple and attractive. The mention of PMA (Preferential market policy) and the timeline for disbursement of incentives are highly appreciated.”
And in order to boost employment and encourage companies in hiring the policy lays out a fiscal incentives chart which it hopes will provide the necessary impetus for hiring.
‘What the government has done through these incentives is not only foster hiring but to reward the hiring of highly skilled professionals. This will help AP move from being a major employer of BPO jobs to a destination of highly skilled professionals’ said Mr Sreedhar.
Interestingly the government has also introduced work from home incentives. With this it aims to encourage companies to allow employees to work from home wherein companies practicing this can avail a ONE time incentive of up to Rs 20k per employment position.
“We look forward to the setting up of the IT and emerging technologies university in which we would like to play a role by promoting skill development in smart grid, smart cities and intelligent infrastructure related technology solutions.”
Mr.Murali Krishna GS
MD & CEO, Fluentgrid Limited
‘Employment creation incentive, incentive for each new employee in WFH, transport subsidy and Industrial power tariff are all great for the companies for that extra cash which would definitely be helpful, especially during this pandemic time’ said Ms Lakshmi Mukkavilli, Managing Director, Patra.
However what is music to the ears of the IT industry is the speed at which the government promises to release the incentives
“Creating IT Concept cities would definitely promote innovation culture in the state and become an attraction for more companies to look at tier 2 cities.”
Ms Lakshmi Mukkavilli
The disbursement of incentive to eligible enterprises shall be disbursed within 6 months from the date of issue of order, says the policy.
‘This is a very attractive clause and if implemented as stated will be a great relief to the industry’ said Mr Sreedhar.
IT Concept Cities
The focus on creating IT concept cities and IT parks is also welcomed by the industry. The IT department looks to develop IT concept cities in 3 locations i.e. Visakhapatnam, Tirupati and Anantapur. As per the government the aim of developing these cities is to ensure speed of execution and reduction of cost for the IT industry.
‘This would would definitely promote innovation culture in the state and become an attraction for more companies to look at tier 2 cities’ opined Ms Mukkavilli.
“The new IT Policy is very well drafted and emphasizes well on nurturing the Emerging technology Innovation Ecosystem in the state. It provides an enabling architecture for making A.P a prominent place in technology and innovation.”
Mr Sanjeev Malhotra
Preferential Market Access
Another major ask of the IT industry that the government seems to have clearly addressed in the policy is the opportunity to give local IT companies preference in procurement.
For any IT requirements up to a value of Rs 1 cr the government shall procure 100% value of procurement from companies/startups operating in Andhra Pradesh as long as the quality of product/service is found to be comparable with similar offerings from other IT firms mentions the policy.
“For any IT requirements up to a value of Rs 1 cr the government shall procure 100% value from Local IT Companies under Preferential Market Access“
‘The Local procurement aspect of the policy is a game changer and we are happy to see clarity on this. This was one of our top asks (from the industry side)’ said Mr Sreedhar. He however said that the actual execution of many of these will be the key.
Startups Call for More Traction
In regards to Startups though the policy does lists out few initiatives to help the startup eco-system get a fillip, stakeholders feel that there needs to be action on ground.
As the proof of the pudding is in the eating similarly the mettle of a startup is in its mvp/demo otherwise it’s just an idea on paper. Thereby the proof here too will be the grounding of the initiatives announced. The direction seems to be correct but the question arises when they will translate into a reality. Also a little bit more visibility in what is currently happening with the existing initiatives will be more helpful’ said Mr Alok Maheshwari, co-founder, Vizag Startups one of the region’s largest startup communities speaking to Vizag Industrial Scan.
While the new IT Policy does talk about setting up incubation centres, conducting hackathons and workshops Mr Alok opines that a Startup Ecosystem can only be built by running the show like a Startup which not only focuses on building a product but also building a community or fanbase which can help in amplifying the message and have a positive virality loop.
However the new IT policy does mention about a flagship startup promotion scheme that the government will launch for early stage startups i.e. Accelerate Startups in Andhra Pradesh (ASAP).
In addition it also talks about creating a fund of funds of Rs 100 crore in partnership with a consortium of Venture capitalists, PE firms and universities.
And for startups that are working in the emerging digital technologies space such as AR/VR, AI/ML, IoT, Robotics etc. they will be given priority in allotment of plug and play space, access to talent pool, incubation centres, CoEs etc.