3 CoE for AI to be set up in top educational institutions: FM

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Mumbai: The Indian government will establish 3 Centres of Excellence (CoE) for Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the financial year 2023-34. During the Union Budget 2023-24 speech, Finance Minister (FM) Nirmala Sitharaman announced that 3 CoE for AI will be set up in top educational institutions. She also announced a national Data Governance policy.

“For realising the vision of Make AI in India and Make AI Work for India, 3 Centers of Excellence for Artificial Intelligence will be set up in top educational institutions,” said FM Sitharaman.

“Leading industry players will partner in conducting interdisciplinary research, develop cutting-edge applications and scalable problem solutions in the areas of agriculture, health, and sustainable cities,” she added.

A National Data Governance Policy will be brought out to unleash innovation and research by startups and academia and will enable access to anonymised data, according to FM Sitharaman.

The announcement reinforces the Indian government’s ongoing efforts and focuses on technology and infrastructure to drive governance and gear up for future needs.

“The Indian government’s intention to establish three “Centres of Excellence for Artificial Intelligence” in prestigious educational institutions to make “AI Work for India” is a dose of encouragement for entrepreneurs who have been working in the field, hoping to give a new face to sectors and services,” Sarvagya Mishra, Co-Founder and Director of SuperBot (PinnacleWorks) commented on the FM’s announcement on 3 CoE for AI.

“These centers will undoubtedly serve as a bridge between educational institutions and leading industries, with the goal of researching and developing practical AI applications across different verticals including agriculture, health, and sustainable cities,” added Mishra.

Furthermore, the focus on building a strong AI ecosystem in India and training skilled AI professionals will assist new businesses in acquiring the right talent as well as puts a lot of responsibility on education institutes to strengthen the curriculum in the field, according to Mishra.

“The 3 CoE for AI to enable ‘Make AI for India’ and ‘Make AI work for India’ will stimulate an effective AI ecosystem and nurture quality human resources in the field of technology. It will also boost the Public-private partnership in conducting research and developing cutting-edge applications and scalable solutions across industries,” said Hitesh Garg, India Country Manager, NXP Semiconductors.

“In line with the government’s vision of digital India, all these initiatives will help us transform into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy,” added Garg.

“We believe the plans to set up 3 CoE for AI to realise the vision of Make AI in India and Make AI work for India is a welcome intervention, and look forward to enabling and participating in this milieu,” said Mathangi Sri Ramachandran, Chief Data Officer of Yubi – a fintech unicorn.

While Mishra considered the Indian government’s move to set up 3 CoE for AI as positive, Pankit Desai, CEO and Co-Founder of Sequretek – a global cybersecurity company pointed out to data access challenge with AI/ML.

AI / ML is a big area and future of every single industry. The big challenge with AI/ML however is access to data, for you to be able to run algorithms and validate the outcomes, you need humongous amounts of data, be it in the medical field, cybersecurity or banking,” said Desai.

For startups in this space, Desai pointed out that they do not have the wherewithal to get access to data. “Ability to have access to anonymised data will be a phenomenal capability that really should help overall AI/ML research, outcomes, solutions, companies, everything becomes significantly better,” he added.

In Desai’s view having a formal policy in place now will ensure there’s no afoul of data privacy norms. However, the shortage of talent in ML and Data Science remains a problem, according to Desia. “There’s lack of understanding of AI as well as traditional courses do not do justice to the requirements of the indutry,” he commented.

With the Indian government’s announcement to set up 3 CoE for AI in top educational institutions, Desai hoped these institutions as incubators will not only give access to the right pool of talent. “But all have carry out research as part of the curriculum so that we get industry ready talent,” he said.

On the national data governance policy plan, Desai reacted that “it is high time” India had it, while the Data Privacy Act is awaiting parliamentary approval. “There is a need to have an overall Data Governance policy framework defining the do’s and don’ts of data consumption for research, education and commercial needs,” he said.

“Again in the context what is needed in the ML without a proper data governance policy it will be very difficult to create a viable business proposition. However we see a proper data governance policy to be an enabler to mass utilization and consumption if AI in various fields,” added Desai.

Overall the tech industry in India has welcomed the Indian government’s move to set up three CoE for AI.

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