Facebook parent Meta will incubate 40 early-stage extended reality (XR) startups from India and provide a grant of ₹20 lakh l to each as part of a new accelerator called XR Startup Program in collaboration with the Ministry of Electronics & IT (MeitY).
In addition to the accelerator program, Meta will also conduct a grand challenge for individual innovators from different sectors including education, healthcare, gaming and entertainment, agri-tech, tourism, and climate. These innovators will be given support to make their XR products ready for the market. Initially, 80 innovators will be shortlisted for a boot camp, out of which 16 will get a grant of ₹20 lakh each to develop a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) or prototype.
Both the accelerator and grand challenge will also help support startups and innovators to build customer connections, and acquire new partnership and funding opportunities.
XR includes all immersive technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) that offer real-world experiences in a virtual world and virtual experiences over real-world objects and spaces using head-mounted displays or smartphones.
“India’s rapid tech adoption combined with a vast pool of tech talent puts the country in a vantage position for shaping the future of the internet. For this future to be equitable, it will require active participation from all stakeholders, including developers, businesses, creators, policymakers, and entrepreneurs,” said Ajit Mohan, vice president, and managing director at Facebook India (Meta).
Mohan pointed out that the XR Startup Program will act as a “catalyst to unlock the use of immersive technology” across multiple sectors for India and the world.
The startup program will be implemented in the International Institute of Information Technology Hyderabad Foundation (CIE IIIT-H), AIC SMU Technology Business Incubation Foundation (AIC-SMUTBI), Gujarat University Startup and Entrepreneurship Council (GUSEC), and IIT Delhi’s Foundation for Innovation and Technology Transfer (FITT).
“The collaboration with Meta will boost the investment landscape and act as a catalyst to nurture the startup ecosystem in the country, especially for technology startups,” said Bhuvnesh Kumar, additional secretary, MeitY.
According to Meta, the startup program is supported by the company’s XR Programs and Research Fund, which has committed $50 million in investment over two years in collaboration with industry partners, governments, nonprofits, and academia.
Joel Kaplan, vice president of global policy at Meta, noted that India will play a "pivotal role" in emerging technologies. "Decisions and investments made here in India now shape global discussions on how technology can deliver more economic opportunity and better outcomes for people," he added.
Rajeev Chandrasekhar, MoS for Electronics and Information Technology, also concurred that “immersive technologies like XR have the power to transform the digital landscape and can have significant economic benefits for India."