“Destination Goa soon synonymous with #WorkationGoa”

IT Minister Rohan Khaunte outlines the Government’s plan to make Goa a preferred hub for creative professionals

On National Startup Day, I convey my best wishes to you, my startup fraternity. Listening to the others talk, I was transported back to 2017 when we actually began thinking about startups. In 2017, when Manohar Parrikar was with us, the government, industry, academia and so many others spent hours together to frame the right policies. We had only one thought − of making Goa the most preferred startup destination in Asia.
In 2018 we realised that the startup ecosystem was building up; and although young, we began taking the relevant steps. We could see a lot of changes happening which made us redefine and fine-tune our policies to ensure that the startup fraternity in Goa gets the best of support from us.
In 2022, under the leadership of Dr Pramod Sawant and support from the government, I began checking out on where we lacked. I saw that we had a lot of catching up to do and we have the potential to ensure the success of the Startup Policy.
For every idea that the government wants to try out, we need two things: one, a good policy, and two, a good driver for that policy. If we don’t have a good driver to drive that policy, that scheme remains only in the books.
We began looking out to get the right people involved so that we could drive the startup community in tune with the idea of the Prime Minister’s ‘Startup India’ campaign.
We realised that potential to convert ideas into something of substance, needs to be mentored and whether it is a master class, a panel discussion, or a workshop, all these things need to be brought together.
Once when I attended a session at BITS, I understood that we need to focus on women’s empowerment. Our Prime Minister speaks about four main areas that need to be focused on − Yuva Shakti, Mahila Shakti, Kisan Shakti, and Gareeb Kalyaan.
If India has to be a superpower, these are the four verticals that we have to start looking at. We need to do it now and when we talk about Goa; it is all about the learning process.
When I look back at where we started to date, I am happy as I see the pace of change which has grown exponentially. The adaption rate for new technology is more rapid if you look at the new applications that have been adopted and those of the past.
India is a young country with a youthful population and it is our time to make the most of it. The problem with innovation and entrepreneurship is risk-taking. We can learn from the West and China on how sharing technology can take us places.
We need to start funding research and development and then get the research model right. It is a long journey, but we have to start somewhere and there has to be a big focus in these areas. The government’s job would be to coordinate and incentivise research and development, but we need companies to come forward.
The Government of India has its missions prioritised when it comes to innovations and setting up of tinkering labs in schools. The Goa Government has its coding and robotics curriculums in our schools and we have a vision to create a scientific revolution, here.
When I took charge as the IT minister, I looked at the drawing board and thought of how we could attract the best talent to Goa, what is our USP, and build a conducive environment, so that the startup ecosystem could slowly build up in Goa.
On meeting with government officials and having discussions with people from the industry, we realised that the world is already here in Goa. People from different age groups, locations, mindsets, and thought processes were already in Goa.
During the pandemic, a new trend emerged, that of the ‘digital nomad’. People wanted to get out of their homes, and experience what life is in different communities and that is where Goa was the perfect fit.
Goa has all the right ingredients that foster creative thinking, and we figured that our state has to be a part of the growth revolution by becoming the hub for these nomads.
We chalked out a roadmap to see where infrastructure could be improved, policies could be built, and talents could be nurtured − all to make Goa the creative capital of our country.
It is a vision and dream that we share, some of these initiatives have also started rolling and we are leaving no voice unheard. Right up from colleges to research institutions to mature startups, IT companies to different groups of communities and stakeholders, this step is vital and will take us to the forefront. Goa is known as a preferred tourist destination which indeed is a primary contributing factor to the State’s GDP.
We don’t need to change this image, but to expand on this through IT inclusiveness and transparency and to make Goa a preferred location for companies and professionals. It is its charm and atmosphere that make Goa the perfect destination for companies and professionals to drive and excel. Goa can be an ideal place for a global opportunity aggregator. Destination Goa shall soon be synonymous with #WorkationGoa with affordable living, high-quality lifestyle, and unmatched mobility.
Goa is extending an invitation to companies and professionals, by creating co-working spaces at prominent beaches like Miramar, Morjim, and Benaulim to start with. We have had the opportunity to bring bright creative minds in the media and entertainment industry to Goa for the ‘Media Startup Expo’ which was held during IFFI 2023. Some of these participants are now considering relocating their offices to Goa, showcasing the state’s growing appeal.
As the government bridges the gap between job seekers and job givers, it is a collaborative effort of all. Everyone has to come together to keep learning and understanding while tuning to industrial requirements and ensuring that the policies that are put in allow you all to get the best out of it.
On National Startup Day, I am happy to say that a lot of things this year will start moving up for the startup fraternity.

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