Innovating In India: Bringing Indian R&d Back Into Focus

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One of the oldest civilizations in the world with a rich cultural heritage, Indian civilization has a strong tradition of science and technology. India has been proactively contributing to the field of science years before modern labs were set up. Several theories and techniques discovered by ancient Indians helped create and strengthen the fundamentals of modern technology. It was the Indian numeral system which made mathematics, business deals, modern accounting, and computer technology possible.

India has birthed brilliant minds like Aryabhatta, and Srinivasan Ramanujan, among others. This culture has trickled down over generations to modern-day India, which is leading R&D across industries, nationally and globally.

The research ecosystem within India has created significant opportunities for multinational corporations around the world due to its intellectual wealth. Currently, India ranks second amongst countries with the largest increase in contributions made to high-quality scientific research.  India-based R&D service companies comprise 22 per cent of the global addressed market and grew at a much faster rate of 12.67 percent. With its fast-paced innovation drive, India is poised to emerge as the most sought-after destination for scientific research.

Nurturing the R&D Culture 

We have legions of Indian engineers who are working in various countries exemplifying the well-trained manpower available at competitive costs. As a result, many MNCs have shifted their R&D base to India. These bases either manufacture products to cater to the local market or aid the parent company overseas in delivering innovative products faster to global markets.

India has total 25 innovation centres and has been named the top innovation destination in Asia and second in the world for establishing new innovation centres. Also, according to the Commerce and Industry Ministry, the total number of patent filings in India has gone up from 42,763 in 2014-15 to 66,440 in 2021-22 due to the measures undertaken by the Indian government to strengthen intellectual property rights (IPR) regime of the country.

India’s global position, in terms of both scientific publications and innovations, has been steadily rising over the years. We hold the 8th rank in patents filed by resident scientists according to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). As per Global Innovation Index (GII) 2020, India’s GII ranking has significantly improved to 48 in 2020 from 81 in 2015.

Owing to the rising number of patents filed by Indian researchers, India has become a hotbed for rising market innovations and new business ideas as the world seeks practical, frugal solutions.

Glocalization – Made in India, For the World 

For MNCs chasing growth, India is a sweet intersection between low-priced talent and a mass market. This has contributed to making India the new global innovation destination. Moreover, the Indian mass market no longer prefers products developed for the American mass market as their incomes are vastly different. Hence, the only way MNCs can capture the Indian segment is by engaging in breakthrough innovation.  Glocalization strategies have gained monumental importance in the tech landscape.

Following suit, global brands are now driving innovation from India, as they set up R&D centres and labs, collaborate with renowned technology institutes and conduct global mentorship workshops. These efforts have accorded global recognition to Indian talent as solutions developed within India are embedded in global devices and products.

For instance, low-priced electrocardiograph – designed and manufactured in India – by GE healthcare is in demand not only in India and similar other emerging economies, but even in nations like the US. The constant new innovations on Indian soil have necessitated the training and mentoring of Indian talent so that they become industry disruptors.

Polishing Indian Talent – Making India a Knowledge Powerhouse 

India possesses all essential ingredients required to be a global driver of innovation: a robust market potential, exceptional talent pool, and a thriving culture of frugal innovation. However, to capture global markets, Indian industries need to be at the top of the value chain. Our customers need to be more aware and demanding and our policies must be more transparent. And to top it all, our country’s talent pool should gain more hands-on experience while parallelly we tap into the global talent pool.

The efforts to mentor and guide Indian talent need to be amplified more. For this we can either kickstart innovation by investing internally or partnering with start-ups and leading technology institutes in the country already working in new areas and driving innovations.

Companies can set up e-learning platforms exclusively for their employees where they can choose from a plethora of short courses and enrol in them. Team managers must encourage their team members to study specific courses whenever a particular project requires it. Organisations can also impart cross-site technical training, where experienced employees can connect with teams in other locations to share knowledge about specific technologies. Companies should collaborate with global leaders carrying out pathbreaking innovations to help upskill their employees. Also, providing the right infrastructural support can go a long way in employees developing technologies that will get them global recognition.

Currently, India is a mine of raw talent that has the potential to become tech disruptors if mentored right. It’s time we capitalize and grow on this opportunity. The government should support and enable those start-ups and businesses that think local but can make an enormous global impact. By unshackling our entrepreneurial spirit and training talent in niche areas, we can create a golden opportunity to take unique ideas to global markets. As a medley of products developed on Indian innovations find their way into global markets, India has proven to be a crucible in many ways.

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