Meta, Ficci, NeGD announce fellowship for developers to build metaverse use cases

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The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci), in association with National e-Governance Division (NeGD) and Meta Platforms, the parent company of Facebook and WhatsApp, on Tuesday announced an ‘extended reality open source’ (XROS) fellowship. The latter, which will include a sum of $1 million to be offered as stipends to about 100 developers, is now open for applications from developers.

The fellowship is a part of Meta’s global ‘extended reality programs and research fund’, from which the internet services firm has already offered a $2 million grant in India for an ‘extended reality startup fund’. The latter is operated by the ‘startup hub’ of the minstry of electronics and information technology (Meity).

At the announcement, Nick Clegg, president of global affairs at Meta, said that the future of the metaverse “won’t be built by Meta alone.” This, in turn, necessitates the need for having independent developers build applications and use cases of the metaverse in an open source model.

Clegg’s assessment is in line with the overall cross-industry understanding of how metaverse applications would develop over time. In an interview with Mint in August this year, Royal O’Brien, executive director of Open 3D Foundation, a cross-industry collaboration of companies contributing to the development of immersive visual technologies, said that developer-focused initiatives supported by big tech firms, such as Meta, Nvidia, Microsoft and others, would help create a market where even smaller companies from around the world would have the ability to build technologies for the future of the internet.“

“An internal research that we commissioned from an independent thinktank suggests that the metaverse economy will account for 4.6% of India’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2031, so the economic benefits (of developing a metaverse ecosystem in the country) are enormous,” Clegg further said.

The executive further cited that with India expected to become the world’s largest market for developers within the next two years, the startup fund will seek to support independent ventures building new and emerging technology use cases.

Ajay Kumar Sood, principal scientific advisor (PSA) to the government of India, said at the announcement of the fellowship that while software development has made metaverse applications more approachable to developers, companies would be needed to make hardware capable of supporting virtual reality and augmented reality visuals more affordable as well.

The initiative will see the NeGD offer technical assistance, which will include mentorship for the startups selected in the program.

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