BANGALORE: Information technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said there are specific gaps that technology needed to fill in the country and his government will backstartups willing to take up those challenges.

Lost and found technology portal for missing children, wi-fi connectivity, access to mobile phones for every village and to improve e governance are some of the challenges.

“To my pleasant surprise, I learnt, I am the first IT minister ever who is interacting with the startup industry,” Prasad told at least hundred product technology startups at an event in Bangalore organised by software product think tank iSpirt.

On Tuesday, the minister attended two events organised by IT trade body Nasscom and iSpirt. Prasad said the vision of the new government is that India must be digitally connected through broadband connectivity especially villages and schools.

At the iSpirt event, 10 product technology companies made presentations including mobile advertising firm InMobi, medical devices maker Forus Health and Team Indus which is making a robot land on the moon. Data visualisation software maker FusionCharts and agriculture technology firm FrontalRain also made presentations to the minister.

Prasad said although Indians have done very well in IT services, innovations needs to be promoted. “Today is the time to travel beyond value chain. Some players can come with ideas, where service can be given cheap, but a product is a product,” said Prasad.

“And some of the innovation I saw here I need to salute all of you.” Prasad said the government has given him a task to connect 50,000 gram panchayats through non optical fiber network this year followed by two lakh gram panchayats in next two years.

Prasad said he was distressed with the fact that broad band penetration in the county is less than Sri Lanka and Malaysia.

“You sitting here can create wonders of the world, why can’t we as collective entity take broad band to all corners of India,” said Prasad. He requested the startup community to create the content their software product innovation assured India is going to lap it up.

“And I am going to stand with you.” Prasad said the iSpirt has come with couple of issues especially taxation faced by the product industry and policy decisions will be taken.

“In my presentation to the prime minster, I said very clearly, startup industry need to be given full encouragement,” said Prasad.

Issues which will be decided very quickly include measures to bolster development of government related applications.