The country’s largest toy cluster is all set to open at Koppal, one of the most backward regions in Karnataka, which is the third-largest market for toys in the country with an estimated sales of Rs 1,200 crore. Aequs Aerospace, a company better known for setting up India’s first aerospace SEZ at Belagavi district, is currently developing the special economic zone (SEZ) for toys spread over 400 acres at Koppal. Located on National Highway 63, the Koppal Toy Cluster has access to the highway, ports, airports and major cities. “While Aequs will create the required infrastructure for setting up manufacturing units at the SEZ, the state government will facilitate new investors from around the world to set up their units,” Gaurav Gupta, Principal Secretary, Department of Commerce and Industries, Government of Karnataka, told DH. He said the government hopes to attract around Rs 5,000 crore investment at the toy cluster, which is expected to create jobs for around 40,000 persons in the next five years. The toy cluster is likely to start functioning by November, he said. As part of its efforts to attract global toymakers to Koppal, the state government held a virtual investor meet on Monday, which was attended by several global toymakers. Aravind Melligeri, Chairman & CEO Aequs, Mike Burrows, VP - Contract Manufacturing, Mattel Asia Pacific; Sanjiv Khullar, MD, India & South East Asia, Hasbro Far East Ltd; Jayadev VN, Director, India Operations, Spin Master; Vivek Jhangiani, Chair, Toy Sector Committee FICCI; Member –International Council of Toy Industries, and Manish Kukreja, President, TAITMA were part of the virtual meet. Special incentives are being given to new investors that will be setting up shop at the toy cluster, Gupta said. The state government has already created the necessary eco-system to facilitate the development of toy cluster. It has supported the setting up of Tool Manufacturing and Precision Engineering, polymers manufacturing clusters in Bengaluru, Dharwad, Tumakuru, and Mysuru. Robust design capacity and testing certification agencies have been set up at Bengaluru, Dharwad, Koppal. The toy industry has grown at a CAGR of 18% (2010-17) and is expected to reach $310 million (over Rs 2,300 crore) by 2023. “Karnataka has a legacy of toy making. The state is focusing on building a strong toy manufacturing industry by providing all the required ingredients. We have also identified Koppal as the first toy manufacturing cluster in India,” Gupta said.