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Kerala, Bahrain Ink MoU to Boost Innovation in Fintech Start-ups

Image credit: Economic Development Board Bahrain

The Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) and the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to cooperate to boost innovation in fintech, ICT, IoT start-ups, and other related sectors.

The MoU was signed in Dubai earlier this month, where the sides attended the 39th annual GITEX Technology Week.

EDB is the investment promotion agency for the Kingdom of Bahrain.

The agreement aims to build business opportunities for each country’s start-ups in the other’s market.

It will facilitate delegation visits to Bahrain and India, collaboration on knowledge exchange and best practices about education programmes and curricula. It will enhance cooperation between financial and technological institutions, universities, research institutions, technology experts, and government agencies.

Also, the two sides will cooperate on the development and growth of fintech and ICT start-ups and centres with support from hubs like the Bahrain Fintech Bay, Brinc Batelco IoT Acceslerator, Flat6 Labs Bahrain, Brilliant Lab, and the KSUM Hub.

These centres will explore innovation projects in areas such as digital and mobile payments, blockchain and distributed ledgers, big data, flexible platforms (API), AML, eKYC, and other emerging areas in fintech and ICT.

According to an industry expert, building a robust ecosystem where fintech start-ups and IT firms can access and engage with critical soft infrastructures such as universities, financial institutions, and government agencies will be a key enabler for growth and innovation.

The agreement is an opportunity for Keralan start-ups to take advantage of Bahrain’s thriving ecosystem. With the lowest setup and operating costs, some of the most advanced supportive infrastructure, and highly skilled labour forces, this is an ideal destination for start-ups seeking to access and scale across the growing US $1.5 trillion GCC markets, the Bahrain EDB Regional Director for India said.

The EDB, in a press release, stated that Bahrain and India have had commercial ties for thousands of years with trade currently standing at some US $1.3 billion.

Fintech and ICT are already a key focus for collaboration between the two countries, with a similar MoU signed by the EDB and the government of Maharashtra last year.

Indian cryptocurrency exchange Belfrics is one of several fintechs testing innovative technologies in Bahrain’s regulatory sandbox, and in the first half of 2019 alone, eight new projects in Bahrain’s ICT sector were started by Indian companies – more than any other country – bringing investments worth more than US $3 million.

KSUM is a government body to support the technology start-ups in the state and is responsible for policymaking and implementation. It supports the start-up ecosystem by developing infrastructure, incubators and accelerators, human capital, funding, state support, public-private partnership, and governance.

It promotes knowledge-driven and technology-based start-up ventures by students, faculty personnel, and other local entrepreneurs.

The KSUM website notes that its objective is to encourage local entrepreneurship and attract non-resident Indians and foreign national entrepreneurs and companies to set up high-tech based business activities in the region.

KSUM builds appropriate models for entrepreneurship development through research matching the socio-cultural environment of Kerala. It encourages and supports established technology business units to carry out innovative research to develop new products and services.

Furthermore, it organises and coordinates faculty development programs for the technical and management faculty in colleges in the state.

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