Towards an Innovation-driven Economy

09 Sep 2022

As India recently celebrated the 75th year of Independence, I’d like to highlight the key scientific and technological milestones that were attained in various areas through the combined forces of the Government, Industry, and educational institutes. Post-Independence, India prioritized science research and technology in a structured manner through the Planning Commission’s five-year plans. In fact, the first draft of the first five-year plan had suggested focussed interventions under ‘scientific and industrial research’.

CII began its technology initiatives more than three decades ago under the chairmanship of late Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, focusing on stimulating Industry’s investments in R&D and building Industry’s technology depth. Over the years, CII has been working to strengthen India’s innovation ecosystem by enabling technology and innovation driven enterprises.

To catch up with the pace of technology development, innovation, and research worldwide, one of the key goals for India is to set a national goal of investment of 4% of GDP in R&D by 2047, with an interim goal of at least 2.5% by 2030. In absolute terms, India’s investment in R&D is USD 48 billion per annum, making it the seventh highest spender on R&D. However, a lot more needs to be done in terms of the translation of scientific research to commercialisation. India has been ranked 46th by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in the Global Innovation Index (GII) 2021 rankings, which implies that the country must work more aggressively if it is to reach the top 20 by 2030.

CII is committed to fostering an ecosystem for leveraging technology to address societal challenges by encouraging Industry participation through various initiatives. Global Innovation & Technology Alliance (GITA), a not-for-profit joint venture company incorporated by CII and Technology Development Board of Department of Science and Technology (DST) has been one of such initiatives. CII also initiated the Technology Summit 25 years ago to build an ecosystem for global technology collaborations in partnership with DST and other countries.

CII has also set up Intellectual Property (IP) facilitation centres in different parts of the country to help SMEs protect their IP. These centres have facilitated filing and protection of over 400 patents, 1200 trademarks, 1700 industrial designs, 170 copyrights, and 35 geographical indications across the country. CII also instituted Industrial Innovation Framework and Awards in 2014 to identify and celebrate top innovative Indian enterprises across Industry.

Further, there is an immense need and an opportunity to expand diversity in education and employment. Therefore, the Technology Mission initiated by CII identifies encouraging women in STEM as one of the key goals. In fact, CII recently released a Compendium of Women in STEM: Vanguards of India@75 featuring success stories and achievements of 125 women luminaries, entrepreneurs, researchers, and others who have made a significant mark in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

For all such initiatives, CII works in close collaboration with several scientific ministries such as DST, Department of Biotechnology, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Technology Development Board, Science and Engineering Research Board, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research and the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser on various policy-related matters of mutual interest.

To take these initiatives forward, there is a need for collective and cohesive working of all the key stakeholders in the technology ecosystem including Industry, academia, R&D labs, and start-ups, referred to as the ‘National Research Quad’. Support from the Government, especially financial, will be critical to the success of the Quad.

It is indeed heartening to note that our nation, our society, Industry, Government and CII has embarked on the mission to launch technology, innovation and research as a movement across nation and the globe with a purpose to make India as a technology leader driven by focus on innovation and research.

This article was contributed by Mr Vipin Sondhi, Chairman, CII National Committee on Future Mobility and Battery Storage and Chairman, CII National Committee on Technology, R&D and Innovation and was first published in CII Communiqué August 2022 Issue.