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India AI Mission looks to leverage Indian talent, data center firms

Indian AI startups and researchers could get access to compute capacity at subsidized costs, says top government official at Global IndiaAI Summit

India AI Mission looks to leverage Indian talent, data center firms
[Source photo: Chetan Jha/Press Insider]

India plans to leverage its homegrown AI (artificial intelligence) talent and may prefer Indian firms to operate the graphics processing units (GPUs) that will be procured as part of the government’s ₹10,371.92 crore IndiaAI Mission.

Announced in March, the national-level AI mission aims to boost innovation, build domestic capacities, and create highly skilled employment opportunities.

The IndiaAI Compute Capacity, a key part of the mission, will establish a scalable AI computing ecosystem with over 10,000 GPUs. This infrastructure, developed through a public-private partnership, will support AI startups and research, offering subsidized access to compute resources and an AI marketplace for pre-trained models and AI services.

The government may opt for Indian data center firms to operate the the graphics processing units (GPUs) that will be procured under the ₹10,371.92 crore IndiaAI Mission, The Economic Times reported, citing people aware of the matter.

“With regard to compute, India has earmarked more than ₹5,000 crore to provide the more than 10,000 GPUs. If Indian AI startups and researchers need compute, they should get access to compute at a subsidized cost,” Abhishek Singh, additional secretary to the ministry of electronics and IT, said at a session on the second and final day of the Global India AI summit on Thursday.

“We are in the process of floating the tenders for procuring of compute (capacity), but it is not that we will buy chipsets and will build public-owned and public-run infrastructure. We will want investments to come from private players. But the part of the cost of access to that compute will be subsidized by the government,” Singh added.

India’s core strengths are its AI talent and the workforce, apart from the scale of digitilization that has happened in recent years, which has allowed the country to generate data sets across sectors. “What we need is to invest in the research ecosystem…and to provide access to compute. We have a lot to catch up with China and the US on building AI apps and building products related to AI, but we have the potential and the skill sets. But with the investments coming in from the government and the industry, we will be able to catch up in due course,” Singh added.

Peak XV has $1.9 bn dry powder for AI

During the same session, Peak XV Partners managing director Rajan Anandan said the venture capital firm has about ₹16,000 crore ($1.9 billion) of dry powder ready for investment in startups.

Anandan said Peak XV made investments in over 25 AI firms in the last year-and-a-half, while highlighting the importance of having more AI researchers in India by bringing them back from various countries.

“About 20% of global AI researchers are Indian or of Indian-origin, mostly in the US. India also has the largest number of STEM graduates, raw talent in which we need t invest,” Ranjan said.

The government hosted the ‘Global IndiaAI Summit’ on 3-2 July in New Delhi, focusing on advancing AI development in compute capacity, foundational models, datasets, application development, future skills, startup financing, and safe AI–the seven key pillars of IndiaAi Mission.

At least 2,000 AI researchers and experts attended the various sessions in-person, and about 10,000 virtually, the government said in a statement.

The summit included additional closed-door sessions among delegates and experts in the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI) that comprises 29 member countries.

GPAI aims to bridge the gap between theory and practice on AI by supporting cutting-edge research and applied activities on AI-related priorities. India is the lead chair of GPAI this year.

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