Hyderabad: In a move to make Hyderabad a key destination of animation, gaming and visual effects industry, the Telangana government has embarked on developing an exclusive IMAGE tower "as a one stop shop" for the sector at an investment of Rs 946 crore.

The IMAGE Tower is being built by the state with the help of real estate developer Salarpuria Sattva in the Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode. Information Technology Minister K.T. Rama Rao on Sunday laid foundation stone for the tower at Raidurgam near Hitec City, the IT hub. He said IMAGE (Innovation in animation, Multimedia, Gaming and Entertainment) Tower would be one-stop shop for Animation, Visual effects, Gaming Comics (AVGC) sector.

The facility is expected to be up and running by 2020. With total built-up area of 16 lakh square feet, IMAGE Tower would be a Center of Excellence with state-of-the-art facilities to support AVGC companies. Rao said the government had last month launched IMAGE Policy, offering several incentives and subsidies for the sector.

The government has identified animation, visual effects and gaming as key growth engine for tech exports and employment generation. The minister said Hyderabad was already home to more than 100 animation and gaming companies including visual effects, 2D and 3D studios, employing 30,000 people. The city is also home to creation of several blockbuster movies like "Bahubali", "Life of Pi", "Magadheera" and "Eega" which brought revolutionary changes in filmmaking, he noted. With Telangana already a leader in IT and ITES sector, he hoped that the push to animation and gaming sector would make the state a truly creative industry hub.

Rao quoted KPMCG-FICCI report to say that the market size of animation and gaming industry in India was $1.3 billion and is expected to reach $3.12 billion in next five years. The minister, who is son of Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, was confident that the IMAGE Tower would redefine the landscape of Hyderabad and become the new age Charminar.