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Innovation Ecosystem in India: Challenges and Opportunities

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Innovation Ecosystem in India

Innovation Ecosystem in India

This article attempts to answer what India has done in the innovation sector. We do not want to talk about how to innovate. We will talk about different initiatives to promote the innovation ecosystem in India. The article mostly revolves around the Central Government, State Government, research institutions, and colleges. Moreover, we hope this will be an eye-opener and a re-affirmation for the uninitiated ones. We try to depict a comprehensive picture for you to use and cherish while drinking your coffee.

India’s Innovation Ecosystem in a glance

India has always been at the center stage of some significant innovations. The world is coming back to accept Ayurveda and Yoga’s knowledge for the betterment of individual life.

The government’s Digital India program is a perfect platform for people to display their talent and share ideas on various topics. Participatory governance is a step towards the comprehensive and equal growth of all the society segments. More and more innovations are expected in education, healthcare, and the environment to solve the rural area challenges.

Technology interrupts models in several sectors, from automotive, media, energy, healthcare to governance, and education. These paradigms have been accepted and used for ages. India is at the lead when it comes to IT and IT-enabled services. Creative entrepreneurs, private entities, for-profit and non-profit organizations are engaged in innovative projects to provide high quality and low-cost products and services.

India has done well at service innovation in the past few years. However, it lags in several R&D spending parameters, IPRs, the business facility, etc. India should bridge the innovation and demographic gap between developing and developed countries. The “Make in India” government campaign would positively promote the innovation ecosystem in India and help India achieve world leadership.

Sustainable economic development and India’s growth will come from innovations, technologies, products, and services. India needs to have an entrepreneurial spirit and the youth knowledge assets to overcome the challenges of Clean, Safe, Skilled, Digital, and Innovative India.

Analysis of the Innovation Ecosystem in India

Patenting

Innovation is one of the fundamental chief motives in today’s world and earns more value each day. In 2011 when Google assume Motorola Mobility, Motorola’s 17000 patents were valued at about $5.5 billion of the total deal worth $12.5 billion. Though Google has sold Motorola to Lenovo and Arris in parts, the patents helped the Search Engine giant make the smartphone space’s grade with the Android operating system forever. More and more US companies realize the worth of patents they hold to make money by unlocking the value kept in such intellectual property, but what is happening in India?

Though there is not any doubt that India has shown a considerable increase in its R&D in recent decades, the number of patent applications registered by Indian companies and individuals, according to the World Intellectual Property Office Statistical Data Center, foreign companies file most of India’s patents and design applications. Experts and academics can often be a helpful resource for industry and innovators. However, there are challenges.

The innovation ecosystem in India faces numerous challenges in many aspects of the innovation ecosystem.

India does not contribute to R&D adequately.

Indian government-supported R&D organizations do not serve the industry enough, especially rural innovators and small entrepreneurs. The sector is risk-averse and has a follower mentality. Those who can spend do not have the mindset to spend in R&D because industrial organizations do not see enough return in new R&D. Successful innovation requires the ability to take the risk, scientific approach, cooperation, scalability, and a proper business model. Currently, in India, there is virtually no way to solve industrial problems quickly. The investment that the government is making in R&D is not well-suited for industrial growth and does not meet the requirements of the rural innovators and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

Inexperienced work-force

While India’s youth talent is advantageous, their inexperience and lack of training are a significant disadvantage. Our observation is that they try to comprise their lack of experience and training by shortcuts. However, taking shortcuts does not predict well for R&D and innovation. The education system does not teach how to seek, organize, and critically analyze information. They need to provide young people with the skills to solve problems creatively and efficiently. Problem-solving ability in the Indian industry lacks because of the inadequacy of trained R&D managers. R&D managers should be leading scientists who are more up to date. Training mid-level R&D managers is a critical requirement in India.

academia-industry conflict

Indian academia-industry relationship conflicts a lot. Academia generally addresses theoretical scientific solutions without much focus on practical needs and applications. In contrast, the industry needs rapid, implementable but not necessarily accurate answers. Applied contract R&D uses trained R&D professionals to provide systematic, scientific, and managed practical and outcome-driven R&D services. Making applied R&D services available to the industry in a creative, well-managed, cost-effective manner avoids reinvention, reduces cost, and takes advantage of best practices and teamwork employed by R&D professionals.

Challenges in patenting

One of the several reasons India has the lowest patent registration is the lack of awareness and the cost-based mindset. The thrust on innovation does not exist in the education system ab-initio. A cost-based value proposition drives most SMEs.

While corporate India understands intellectual property value, many companies do not allocate funds for Intellectual assets creation. They only concentrate on short-term growth plans. The Indian government’s endless efforts give pace to the intellectual regime. However, more steps must be taken to reach international standards.

The Indian Intellectual property laws were harmonized with the Global ones from 1995 to 2005. India has uniquely placed four different Patent office branches in Kolkata, Mumbai, New Delhi, and Chennai. The government has renewed these offices’ infrastructure and ensured that the offices function transparently.

Business Incubator Models

Various business incubator models are developing in the country like incubators at academic institutions or early-stage financial institutions and support social enterprises. Through its Department of Science and Technology (DST), India’s government has contributed to business incubation initiation and evolution. DST had established incubators, setting up Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Parks (STEP), and, more recently, Technology Business Incubators (TBI). These incubators can be broadly classified into two major categories; for-profit (incubators/ accelerators) and non-profit (incubators/STEPs).

Inducing innovation in India

We are inherently innovative. It is also necessary to “instigate” people to get rid of conformity and structural severity imbibed through the conventional school system based on rote learning and a hierarchical society.

Only a few other countries have the scale of diversity that India does. Diversity is one of the key ingredients necessary for evolving an innovative society. Diversity causes the concept of “thinking differently,” which is the essence of innovation. 

Another essential ingredient that we have – unfortunately – in abundance is adversity, which forces people to think of out-of-the-box solutions. The difficulties of day-to-day life, the shortage of necessary items push people to find unique and creative solutions. Adversity is not something one wants to encourage. The challenge is channelizing the innovativeness that results from it.

More of the standard necessities for Innovation Ecosystem in India are well-known: 

  • early-stage or angel funding
  • mergers and acquisitions
  • mentoring and networking

The creation of an innovative society must begin from schools. National Innovation Scholarships for children would be a positive and long-term complement to the innovation funds and many other initiatives.

Innovation Support System

India has a well-evolved system for supporting and funding science, technology, and innovation (STI). The National Innovation System (NIS) has developed over the years and positioned itself to meet the requirement of various policy changes. In the country, economic activity is gaining momentum. Innovation is thus at the center stage.

Various Government Ministries, Departments, and Agencies organize the ecosystem of STI support and India’s funding. There are multiple schemes in the public domain, which play a vital role. There are also several

venture capital and private funds, which are providing support for innovation.

Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR), Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Department of Science and Technology (DST), and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) have established the strategic frameworks to provide support and funding. They have several success stories. We will mention some of the funding mechanisms here to show the opportunity to obtain the desired support for innovation and deployment.

The National Science & Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board (NSTEDB)

Under the Department of Science and Technology, NSTEDB promotes knowledge-driven and technology-intensive enterprises. It has various support mechanisms, efforts through which have led to the development of high-end entrepreneurship in the country. The NSTEDB runs the technology, innovation management, and entrepreneurship and information services through a TIME IS web portal. It is a one-stop site for budding techno-entrepreneurs in terms of retrieving information and seeking guidance for setting up enterprises.

Technology Development Board (TDB)

TDB operates under the Department of Science and Technology to support the advancement and commercialization of indigenous technology and the modification of imported technology. It has been encouraging enterprises to take up technology-oriented products and services. The TDB runs a Seed Support Scheme for technology startups in Technology Business Incubators and Science and Technology Parks as well. Enterprises can seek support in partnership with an Indian R&D institution. TDB supports diverse projects through equity participation and loan assistance modalities.

The National Innovation Foundation (NIF)

NIF is an autonomous organization under the DST. For grassroots innovators, NIF has provided necessary institutional support. The unique framework of NIF has supported several grassroots innovators and traditional knowledge holders. NIF handholding them for nurturing their idea to develop into a commercialized product. The NIF proactively pioneers for indigenous creative ideas, innovations, and traditional knowledge to fulfill its mission. It also connects with various players of the National Innovation System (NIS). There is an incubator of grassroots innovations and traditional knowledge, named GIAN. It provides incubation support to grassroots innovators.

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ARDOXSO Weekly Blog currently has 5 members at its editorial board and publishes about 250 articles annually on ARDOXSO blog.

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