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

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) on Tuesday announced an Extended Reality Open Source (XROS) grant in partnership with the National e-Governance Division (NeGD) and Meta Platforms, the parent company of Facebook and WhatsApp. on . The latter, which will include a sum of US$1 million offered as grants for about 100 developers, is now open for developer applications.

The grant is part of Meta’s global “Extended Reality Programs and Research Fund,” from which the internet services company has already offered a $2 million grant for an “Extended Reality Startup Fund” in India. The latter is operated by the “Startup Hub” of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity).

In the announcement, Nick Clegg, Meta’s President of Global Affairs, said that the future of the Metaverse “is not being built by Meta alone.” This, in turn, requires independent developers to develop applications and use cases of the Metaverse in an open-source model.

Clegg’s assessment is consistent with the overall understanding across industries of how metaverse applications would evolve over time. In an interview with Mint this August, Royal O’Brien, executive director of the Open 3D Foundation, a cross-industry collaboration of companies helping to develop immersive visual technologies, said that developer-focused initiatives backed by big tech companies like Meta, Nvidia, Microsoft and others would help create a market where even smaller companies from around the world would be able to develop technologies for the future of the internet.”

“An internal study we commissioned from an independent think tank 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 continued.

The Executive further stated that as India is expected to become the world’s largest market for developers within the next two years, the startup fund will seek to support independent companies developing new and emerging use cases for technology.

Ajay Kumar Sood, Senior Scientific Advisor (PSA) to the Government of India, when announcing the grant, said that while software development has made metaverse applications more accessible to developers, companies need to develop hardware that supports virtual reality and augmented reality visuals as well more affordable.

As part of the initiative, NeGD will provide technical support that includes mentoring for the startups selected in the program.

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