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Microsoft, TCS to jointly mentor start-ups

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Bengaluru, June 23 : The Technology arms of global software majors Microsoft and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) on Thursday announced a joint initiative to mentor start-ups and engage with them to make innovate solutions for the global market.

“Microsoft Accelerator and TCS co-innovation network will create a platform to spur the Indian start-up system through an open framework,” the IT majors said at ‘Think Next Summer 2016′, a Microsoft Accelerator flagship forum here for thought leaders intended to drive transformation through innovation.

As access to markets and customers remains a challenge for Indian start-ups, the partnership will provide start-ups access to their networks and relationships across customers, investors, academia and industry, creating a value proposition in the enterprise marketplace.

“The progress India has made in IT and entrepreneurship over the years changed the landscape offering new entrepreneurs unmatched opportunities. As one of the contributors to the start-up ecosystem in this country, we felt it was a story worth telling,” said Microsoft Accelerator global director Ravi Narayan, releasing an e-book on the “History of Indian Start-up Ecosystem” on the occasion.

Another e-book – “Timeline of Indian Start-up Ecosystem” – was also released.

The joint initiative will also connect start-ups with corporates, which will get access to innovative solutions for their business needs while providing greater market access to start-ups.

“The partnership highlights our efforts to engage with start-ups and underlines our commitment to provide innovative solutions to our diverse customer base. As we enter a new phase of innovation and computing, companies must co-innovate and create strategic partnerships to solve challenging problems for customers,” said TCS global head for hi-tech industry solutions Nagaraj Ijari at the day-long event.

The joint programme will also offer participating start-ups access to the expertise and client-base of both the software majors and create opportunities to innovate and transform the business landscape.

The 12 graduating startups from the event are Altizon, Tarnea, Aureus Analytics, Baby Chakra, Reverie, Strides, Locus, Admission Table, Distiman, Calm.io, Yellow Messenger and Report Bee.

They made presentations on their ventures to about 550 delegates comprising corporates, investors, thought leaders, and Microsoft management who partnered to push the collaborative innovation.

Altizon announced the launch of iProd, a revolutionary IoT (Internet of Things)-based based product to empower manufacturers to optimize productivity and overall equipment effectiveness along with Distiman, a mobile app that maximises profits for mom and pop retailers through on-demand stocking.

“The interesting thing about India becoming a start-up nation is that this transformation happened not long ago, but around us.. As a citizen of the start-up ecosystem in the country, we decided to take an overview of the developments,” Naraynan added.

Infosys’ co-founder and former Unique Identification Development Authority of India (UIDAI) chairman Nandan Nilekani spoke on ‘An alternate view of the future: India in the age of technological disruption’ and Microsoft India chairman Bhaskar Pramanik on ‘The role of start-ups in India’s digital transformation journey’.

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Artificial Intelligence start-ups blossom in India, need big dollars to grow

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Artificial Intelligence

New Delhi, Sep 8: A decade ago, Artificial Intelligence (AI) was unknown to many of us mortals. Lately, however, AI and related buzzwords like Machine Learning (ML) or Big Data Analytics are more visible — staring at us from clumsy signage boards hanging at the entrance of private IT training institutes.

The bare fact is that this new category of intelligence is undoubtedly diversifying human thinking rather than replacing it as some of us fear. The technology, especially the conversational one, has shown tremendous potential — the banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) sector being the early adopter.

Sensing the immense opportunity ahead, nearly 200 AI start-ups in India are today innovating and creating AI-based solutions for various industries.

Chatbots are slowly becoming the default customer support solution for most services and Mumbai-based Haptik is one such AI-based platform — building applications for consumers, publishers and enterprises.

Having grown 10 times in revenue in just one year, its partners and clients include Coca-Cola, HDFC Life, Samsung, Edelweiss Tokio, Goibibo, Amazon Pay, ClubMahindra, ICICI Bank and Tata Docomo, among others.

According to Kartik Poddar, Business Head, Haptik, they are amazed as well as encouraged by industry’s response and awareness regarding AI technologies in the country.

“The days of concept-selling are over and organisations are deploying AI tech for real use-cases within their businesses, with substantial knowledge regarding its general capabilities and purpose-oriented utility,” Poddar told IANS.

More than 50 per cent of Indian retail companies will be operating on AI by 2020, said PeopleStrong, a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) HR technology and solutions company.

According to an Accenture analysis, AI has the potential to add $957 billion to India’s economy in 2035.

“We are just scratching the surface of the possibilities and applications of AI in business. There is huge demand and a lot of open source tools are available for start-ups to use and build interesting applications on,” informed Poddar.

For Arun Gupta, Chief Executive Officer at MoMagic Technologies — an AI and Big Data-driven mobile tech firm — India is currently witnessing an all-time high and growing online user base, especially the millennials.

The abundance of data and increased need of its error-free analysis has forced companies to turn towards technologies like AI, resulting in more and more start-ups diving into AI-driven business offerings.

According to Gupta, the digital wave is bringing in a behavioural change and technologies like AI and ML play a key role in analysing that change via the data captured

“In a country like India, with its huge population and vastly diverse demographic spread and customers available on multiple connected devices, AI today presents a big opportunity for businesses across sectors,” Gupta told IANS.

The cost of building AI-powered experiences has been reduced with disruptive technologies being democratised.

Poddar said that companies are mandated to work with innovative start-ups to develop and implement AI-driven solutions to meet specific business challenges.

“We have seen some really interesting AI applications in retail, e-commerce, healthcare, travel and banking, etc. Even the government sector has warmed up to incorporating AI-driven solutions in various public sector initiatives,” the Haptik executive told IANS.

Pune-headquartered digital entertainment firm JetSynthesys is not only developing in-house technology for AI in gaming but also scouting opportunities for new AI start-ups which can address various problems in India.

“Adoption of AI is definitely on the rise so there is space for the right start-up. Also, start-ups in India need to benchmark against global activity in this space which has also heated up significantly in the past two years,” noted Rajan Navani, MD and CEO, JetSynthesys.

According to him, manufacturing, media and entertainment, logistics, urbanisation and smart cities — along with education and healthcare — will benefit significantly from adoption of AI in the country.

A new Tata Communications study says AI is now being viewed as a new category of intelligence that can complement existing categories of emotional, social, spatial and creative intelligence.

“What is transformational about multiplicity is that it can enhance cognitive diversity, combining categories of intelligence in new ways to benefit all workers and businesses,” said study co-author Vinod Kumar, CEO and Managing Director at Tata Communications.

The seeds of AI are being sown in India and start-ups await big financing deals and dollars from venture capitalists which helped neighbouring China harbour one of the biggest clusters of AI start-ups in the world, after the US.

“Big industry players that have the financial strength and business experience to invest in AI research and development typically lead the strategic charge on global competitiveness for their country,” the Accenture analysis noted.
Will they take cognizance of the thriving Indian start-up scene in AI which has the potential to “innovate” for the world?

IANS

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2 Indian start-ups listed for Google’s ‘Launchpad Studio’ programme

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Mumbai, Sep 6: Mumbai-based m.Paani and Gurugram-based Aye Finance have been listed in 10 companies selected globally by Google for its flagship development acceleration programme “Launchpad Studio”.

The “Launchpad Studio” programme brings top machine learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based startups from across the world and experts from Silicon Valley under the guidance of Google researchers, engineers, product managers and trusted experts.

m.Paani is India’s first neighbourhood loyalty platform that focuses on empowering India’s local retailers and users using ML and AI.

The start-up rewards consumers with “m.Paani points” when they shop from local retail partners across categories and help retailers grow their businesses by digitising, optimising and maximising their relationships with existing and new customers, it said in a statement on Thursday.

“We are incredibly excited to be a part of the Google Studio programme, especially as the youngest company,” said Akanksha Hazari Ericson, CEO and Founder, m.Paani.

Aye Finance is a non-banking finance company (NBFC) that provides business loans to the small and micro enterprises and builds solutions, automation and processes that address the challenges that have hindered the classical financial industry.

The “Launchpad Studio” programme commenced from September 6 at Google’s headquarters in San Francisco and will last for a period of four months.

IANS

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Google Launchpad Accelerator India shortlists 10 startups

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New Delhi, Aug 31: Google on Friday announced the first batch of 10 short-listed startups who will be part of its “Launchpad Accelerator” mentorship programme in India.

The inaugural class will begin on September 10 at the Google office in Bengaluru.

The startups will go through a two-week intensive mentorship boot camp, followed by customised virtual support for the remaining duration of three months, the company said in a statement.

“The shortlisted startups are doing incredible work in areas ranging from, enhancing employability and earning-abilities of the blue-collar workforce to using satellite imagery to support farmers’ decision making process,” said Paul Ravindranath G, Programme Manager, Google India.

Among the selected startups is CareNx — a smartphone-enabled fetal heart monitor for early detection of fetal asphyxia.

“Vassar Labs” uses sensors, satellite and crowd-sourced data to provide decision-making support in sectors such as water, agriculture, education and more.

Wysa is an AI-based chat therapy for mental health while MultiBhashi is a simplified language learning platform for blue-collar workforce and “Next Billion Indian” online users.

“Genrobotics is a semi-automatic robot for manhole cleaning directed to bring the practice of manual scavenging to an end in India,” said Google.

OliveWear is a connected health ecosystem of doctors to give personalised maternal care to pregnant women.

Signzy ensures digital trust using AI and Blockchain to provide smart e-verification and risk prediction.

A software platform, SlangLabs helps build multilingual voice interfaces for mobile apps, which enable app interactions via voice in addition to touch.

ten3THealthcare is an early detection system for preventable clinical adverse events by monitoring real time, remote, and continuous vital signs of patients.

Uncanny Vision is focused on vehicle analytics, people analytics and object analytics using AI-based Deep Learning models.

“We are hopeful that with this programme of ours, we will be able to bring best of Google — our expertise, platforms, tools and core strengths including machine learning and AI, to help Indian startups build, scale and grow their offering,” said Ravindranath.

Launchpad Accelerator India, which opened applications in July, is based on Google’s global Launchpad Accelerator programme.

IANS

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