We want to create a technology decacorn in India: Umakant Soni of ARTPARK

Yatti Soni | | Updated on: Mar 15, 2022
Umakant Soni, CEO of ARTPARK

Umakant Soni, CEO of ARTPARK

Some of the projects supported by ARTPARK include Advanced Air Mobility, Corridrone, Astrome, etc

ARTPARK (AI and Robotics Technology Park) along with AI Foundry is going to launch a $100 million venture fund to support AI and robotics innovations in India. Established by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore with the support from AI Foundry, ARTPARK is a not-for-profit foundation promoting technology innovations in artificial intelligence and robotics. 

Some of the projects supported by ARTPARK include Advanced Air Mobility, Corridrone, Astrome, Tez Rakshak, STEMpedia, VIshwa, CD Space Robotics, Walking Robot, Avtaar Robotics, Warehouse Robotics, vEngage.ai, XraySetu, Asha, and ARTBot Labs. BusinessLine spoke to Umakant Soni, CEO of ARTPARK, about the foundation’s vision and plans with the new $100 million venture fund.

What is the vision behind ARTPARK?

The perspective was simple: we want to bring industry, academia and government together to discuss problems and in those problem areas, we encourage research that can be converted into products and companies. They then become large start-ups.

‘Connecting the unconnected’ is a classic perspective. For instance, if you can build next generation 5G connectivity for rural areas, this solution would not just be applicable in India, it will even have applications in Southeast Asia, Middle East, and Africa.

So if we want to create future technology global unicorns, then we need to solve these problems. While we can solve the technology problems, the policy problem has to be solved by the government. The research for that has to be solved by the academia. If we really want to become Atmanirbhar, we need to nail that bridge. 

How many projects are being supported by ARTPARK currently and do you want to support more innovations in the future?

We are currently supporting 13 projects and four of them are already becoming companies. Going forward, ARTPARK is collaborating with AI foundry to launch a $100 million AI and robotics venture fund. It is going to be a 10+2 years horizon, which means the start-ups will have 12 years to grow the projects into large technology decacorn. We are waiting for SEBI’s final nod to launch the venture fund and it is expected to come in this week.

How many more companies do you want to support with this fund and what would be the average investment size?

We would like to support hundreds of such companies, because the idea is to enable talent. The fund investment size can vary for different projects, we could invest from ₹5 lakh to ₹1 crore.

ARTPARK is not about quantity; we want to create a technology decacorn out of India — that’s the benchmark we have kept. It does not matter how many companies we support but we have to get one out, which is a breakthrough globally. 

Are there any specific sectors that ARTPARK will focus on?

The fund will focus on supporting three sectors. One, ‘connecting the unconnected’ — providing physical and digital connectivity; second, ‘healthcare AI for Bharat’ and, third, ‘inclusive learning for future’, because with AI you will have multiple job shifts in your career and learning to learn is going to be the only option.

There are two important things — how do you enable people learning to learn and learning to create value (physical or digital) that will ensure that they not only survive in future, they thrive in future. 

Published on March 15, 2022
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