iMerit, one of the world’s leading data solutions providers, was recognised in an industry event for its extraordinary growth in becoming an industry anchor in the Hubballi-Dharwad-Belagavi (HDB) cluster, part of Karnataka Digital Economy Mission’s (KDEM) Beyond Bengaluru initiative. The company’s India operations have grown tremendously since its inception, highlighting Hubballi’s empowering environment and rising stature as a tech hub. Notably, iMerit’s Centre of Excellence for AI training in Hubballi, backed by data annotation capabilities, is enabling smarter AI-based solutions the world over..
Through policy, inter-organisational cooperation, and government aid like the Beyond Bengaluru Cluster Seed Fund and the Karnataka Acceleration Network, an encouraging start-up ecosystem is being created to facilitate technological progress, investments, and knowledge sharing around innovation in multiple new-age domains like artificial intelligence, cyber security, edtech, and agritech. The Beyond Bengaluru project, by connecting investors with the right opportunities in these emerging hubs and inviting companies to set up, is helping the creation of future jobs: the HDB cluster is already home to companies like IonIdea, 5S Digital, dhiOmics, IMOS AG, Excellarate Technologies, I-Triangle, Zeliot, 3rd Eye Data, and Infosys. Hubballi will also be the location of a 200-acre electronics manufacturing cluster, bringing in projected investments of over ₹300 crores while generating in excess of 2,000 jobs.
In about 18 months, the HDB cluster has attracted investments from about eight IT companies, and about three existing companies have expanded their capacities, with over 40 more expected to begin business soon, leading to the possibility of 15,000+ jobs. KDEM, along with its local industry advisors and strong ecosystem partners, is working towards tapping into the robust small and medium industry ecosystem in the HDB cluster by supporting it with infrastructure and access to digital tools to transform the local economy. Furthermore, Hubballi, Dharwad, and Belagavi were ranked among the top 11 Indian cities for women based on social and industrial inclusion scores, reflecting the cities’ healthy, equitable prospects.
Radha Basu, Founder & CEO of iMerit, elaborated on setting up in Hubballi, saying, “We immediately saw Hubballi’s potential as a low-risk, high-reward opportunity—the extended region has a great love for technology, spurred by the presence of top-notch organisations like IIT Dharwad and Deshpande Startups, besides offering value in ease of doing business, a zero attrition rate, and a fantastic partner ecosystem. Despite this, we never imagined the level of success we’ve enjoyed: We started with 250 people; we’re now at around 600 and only getting bigger. And I’m proud to say we’ve managed to contribute handsomely to the Beyond Bengaluru vision by including local talent, stimulating pockets of innovation that are part of a larger link, and bringing Hubballi to global notice. We’re glad to have chosen this city and can’t wait to push ahead.”
Vivek Pawar, CEO of Deshpande Foundation and founder of Sankalp Semiconductor, spoke of the industry’s appeal in the cluster: “There is generous proactive industry support here: I began my high-tech start-up in Bengaluru but moved to Hubballi within six months thanks to the city’s great entrepreneurial ecosystem. Sankalp started in 2005, broke even in 2008 despite a global economic meltdown, and doubled its revenues in 2009. We succeeded due to the high support Hubballi guaranteed in the face of low costs, making it easy to build a sustainable business. I believe it won’t be long until the region grabs international attention and beckons global companies. I congratulate iMerit for choosing Hubballi as their preferred business destination and happy to extend all support from KDEM and Industry”
Sanjeev Gupta, CEO of Karnataka Digital Economy Mission, said, “The state government is continuously invested in developing geographies outside Bengaluru to catalyse more action-oriented progress. Our combination of policy, industry partnerships, and planning has helped GCCs realise the tangible benefits, ease of doing business, talent acquisition and access to customer ecosystem. And with the union budget announcing upcoming centres of excellence for artificial intelligence and Skill India International Centers, its inline with our vision to grow the emerging tech clusters. We are glad to have iMerit as our industry anchor at Hubballi and drive the digital economy. KDEM is always there as industry growth catalyst.”
Karnataka Digital Economy Mission (KDEM) is a Section 8 organisation designed to function as the knowledge bridge between the Government of Karnataka and the industry ecosystem to accelerate the development of the state’s IT, BT, and S&T sectors. Endeavouring to contribute US$300 billion to the prime minister’s vision of a US$1 trillion digital economy, KDEM plays a critical role in supporting technology investments, uncovering technology opportunities through research, structuring promotional efforts abroad, providing feedback on policy, and forming strategic roadmaps. The organisation’s ‘Beyond Bengaluru’ imitative seeks to maximise the economic potential of emerging cities/regions outside the state capital by enabling their organic growth and inviting investments for start-ups/enterprises.
As a result, over 25 companies, including IBM and GlowTouch, have begun functioning in the Mysuru, Mangaluru, and Hubballi clusters, generating employment for more than 5,000 people. Additionally, in measures to create about 10,000 start-ups by 2030, KDEM is working on augmenting the start-up ecosystem in the existing and planned clusters through the ‘Beyond Bengaluru Startup Grid’. The project facilitates access for upcoming start-ups with mentor groups across broad areas like HR, legal, R&D, accounting, and marketing/branding, with more than 300 start-ups already a part of the grid. KDEM, in association with industry partners, is also setting up funds of INR 75 crore for the three clusters to invest in promising tech-based start-ups.
KDEM is enabling future digital jobs across artificial intelligence and cyber security in Mysuru, Hubballi, Mangaluru, Kalaburagi, and Belagavi, with 2,000+ opportunities. It is also spearheading innovation by implementing various specialised Centres of Excellence. KDEM regularly brings together the industry ecosystem through numerous large-scale events, connecting thousands of delegates and prominent speakers. Highlights of these discussions include the signing of multiple MoUs, expressions of interest in start-up investments, and over 500 business meetings. The ‘Beyond Bengaluru’ Investor Connect events specifically have successfully leveraged opportunities in cyber security, ESDM, and AI/VR for Mysuru, fintech for Mangaluru, and agritech, edtech, and Industry 4.0 for Hubballi.