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Google and NITI Aayog Partner To Help Grow AI Ecosystem In India

Tech giant Google has partnered with NITI Aayog to provide an artificial intelligence (AI)-based skill training opportunity to Indian startups as well as to budding entrepreneurs. The two parties have signed a statement of intent (SoI) to train and incubate Indian startups specialising in AI-based technology.

The beneficiaries of the programme will include startups and students (graduates and engineers) across universities and colleges. The training will be imparted through online and developer-run courses in the form of study groups, NITI Aayog said in a media statement.

NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said, "NITI's partnership with Google will unlock massive training initiatives, support startups, and encourage AI research through PhD scholarships, all of which contributes to the larger idea of a technologically empowered New India."

Here are some of the key areas Google and NITI Aayog will focus on:

  • Organising training sessions on the use of open-source AI tools for government functionaries
  • Awarding grants and scholarships for students and startups in the field of AI and machine learning (ML)
  • Organising AI and ML study programmes on Google's Machine Learning Crash Course (MLCC)
  • Incubating Indian AI and ML startups
  • Organising a Hackathon focussed on using AI, ML, and open data sets to solve key challenges within agriculture, education, healthcare, etc, in India
  • NITI Aayog: Driving AI In India

    The Centre has entrusted NITI Aayog to set up a national programme in technologies such as AI. While announcing India's Union Budget 2018-19, finance minister Arun Jaitley had said that the national programme will focus on R&D in technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and other technologies of the future.

    The government has allocated over $480 Mn under the Digital India initiative in the Union Budget 2018 for this programme.

    NITI Aayog is already working on a strategy paper for the application of blockchain in India. The country's premier think tank has already partnered with the Andhra Pradesh government to pilot blockchain-based projects. Andhra Pradesh is the first state in the country to launch blockchain-based pilot projects in sectors such as land records, transport, and cybersecurity.

    Recently, Inc42 noted how NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant took notice of AI-based startups in India. These startups include:

  • Deep Learn Labs: This Hyderabad-based startup provides solutions in building intelligent systems for analysis and decisionmaking
  • Qure AI: A Mumbai-based startup, Qure AI aims to leverage deep learning effectively to diagnose disease from radiology and pathology imaging
  • Sigtuple: This Bengaluru-based medical tech startup wants to create a data-driven, machine learning and cloud-based solution for detection of medical abnormalities
  • Edge Networks: A Bengaluru-based intelligence-driven HRTech solution, Edge Networks is leveraging data science and AI to match people with jobs
  • Silversparro: This Gurugram-based startup offers an Optical Character Recognition solution using deep learning technology
  • Fluid AI: A Mumbai-based startup, Fluid AI is working to power AI across industries, sectors and use cases
  • Huew: This Bengaluru-based startup provides AI-based shopping assistance
  • From Search To Payments To Tech, Google Is Everywhere

    In India, Google is widely known for its search engine, its video platform YouTube, and its Android operating system (OS). It also owns Tez, a payment application that works on the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) platform. The tech giant has set up branch offices in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Gurugram, and Hyderabad.

    The search engine giant has partnered with the Indian Railways and RailTel to provide WiFi at train stations across India. It is said to have registered 7.5 Lakh monthly Google Internet users across 300 plus stations. Further, the company has also partnered with Tata Trusts and has launched Internet Saathi to equip women in villages across India with basic digital literacy skills. Since its launch in 2015, Internet Sathi has trained 1.35 Mn women across 140K villages in 13 Indian states.

    Under its Digital Unlocked initiative, Google has been providing a set of training tools - both online and offline - to help businesses from conception to execution of their digital marketing journey, including improving discoverability, driving sales, and boosting productivity. It claims to have engaged over 400K businesses in the initiative.

    Its journey in India doesn't end here. In a recent development, Google gave a grant of $3 Mn to India-based TheTeacherApp - Central Square Foundation.

    The involvement of the likes of Google in training students and startups in AI will surely bolster the Indian government's effort to promote research and development in machine learning, artificial intelligence, and other technologies of the future.

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