The agreement, which was signed at the World Economic Forum's 50th annual meeting at Davos, aims to achieve three principal goals:
1. Build robust FinTech, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and Cybersecurity ecosystems where startups and technology firms engage in external partnerships with corporates, universities, research institutions, technology experts and government agencies.
2. Develop education programmes and curricula relating to FinTech, AI, IoT, and Cybersecurity, to benefit the sectors in their respective jurisdiction. This may include facilitating and enhancing cooperation between relevant authorities such as universities/research institutions, technology experts, and government agencies.
3. Nurture FinTech, AI and Cybersecurity startups and centres and collaborate to facilitate their growth through development and support.
Bahrain is one of the oldest and most established financial centres in the Gulf region. Bahrain has capitalised on its banking expertise to grow one of the most concentrated and advanced FinTech ecosystems in MENA.
With its cutting-edge regulation, competitive costs of doing business and supportive ecosystem, Bahrain is an increasingly attractive destination for startups looking to take their first steps outside of their domestic markets and increase their international presence.
Karnataka is the leading technology hub in the world and has also emerged as the leading R&D and innovation ecosystem for start-ups. Home to over 1.2 million software professionals and over 80 per cent of fortune 500 companies, Karnataka has a unique mix of rich technology talent and the cutting-edge R&D, which has made it the go-to destination for IT, biotechnology and startups.
Bahrain will benefit from Karnataka's expertise in emerging technologies such as AI and Cybersecurity, while Karnataka will have access to Bahrain's renowned FinTech prowess. Authorities from both parties will also collaborate on facilitating SMEs, including startups, through incubation and ecosystem exposure visits.
The agreement marks the latest chapter in one of the longest-running economic and trading relationships between India and Bahrain, which is shifting increasingly towards service exports, FinTech and ICT. Bilateral trade between the two nations currently stands at some USD 1.3 billion.
"Bahrain and India share historic ties dating back 5,000 years to the Dilmun era, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in annual bilateral trade. With today's MoU signing at Davos, we look forward to further strengthening those links and welcoming innovative Indian firms seeking to access and scale across the growing USD 1.5 trillion GCC market," commented Khalid Humaidan, Chief Executive of Bahrain Economic Development Board.
"Bahrain not only offers competitive costs and easy set-up, but the government has implemented a programme of ambitious reforms to encourage investment in a range of sectors. India is an emerging power in fields such as FinTech and ICT, with great experience we can learn from - and as the de facto test bed of the Gulf, Bahrain has positioned itself as the ideal destination of choice for turning knowledge into opportunity," added Humaidan.
"For the first time, the Government of Karnataka is keenly participating in the WEF Annual Meeting with a delegation headed by the Chief Minister. The Annual Meeting is a fitting venue for the signing of this MoU as global leaders have converged here to discuss sustainability. Disruptive technologies such as AI and IoT have the potential to solve this challenge," said Dr EV Ramana Reddy, IAS, Additional Chief Secretary at the Department of IT, BT and S&T, Government of Karnataka.
"We are indeed pleased to sign this agreement with Bahrain Economic Development Board. Parties of today's cooperation are setting the foundation for a long-term partnership in the fields of Fintech, IoT, AI, and cybersecurity. As we move forward, it is enormously exciting to think what we might achieve through collaboration, mutual innovation and knowledge exchange," added Reddy.
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