Saturday, December 31, 2011

What ails Innovation in India


Recently Shankar Subramanian, a friend and a famous trainer in Bangalore pointed out a not-so-surprising fact that India is steadily increasing the number of patents being filed in India, but India still trails USA, Japan, China, South Korea & France. This is hardly surprising when we consider the basic inputs needed for innovation.

So what are the necessary inputs for innovation?

There are seven basic inputs needed for innovation as listed below in the order of strengths in India

  1. Technically competent people
  2. Technology
  3. Understanding customer Needs
  4. Leadership commitment
  5. Financial resources
  6. Brainstroming or Innovation sessions
  7. Strong patent filing & protection system

When we look at the seven basic inputs, we in India has great strength in top three inputs: People, Technology and Understanding customer needs. But we are weakest in protecting Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). Without adequate IPR protection, there will be little motivation to file for patents or even innovate - which effectively affects the leadership commitment to innovate, which then has a casading impact on allocating financial resources and time for innovation.

Innovation is not easy, it takes several inputs to succeed. Having a partial set of inputs will not help. Most Indian companies put their best efforts and talent in operations and spend very little for innovation. But when there is a focus - we have seen rapid innovation happen. Tata Eka - the super computer, Mahindra XUV500, Tata Nano are best examples of low cost innovation.

In India, the biggest missing piece has been a strong patent filing & protection system. The current patent filing system and patent protection in India is still not world class. Without a world class patent filing & protection system, India will lag behind other countries.

1 comment:

Anuradha Goyal said...

Why are we obsessed with patents? Just because that is how the west measures the innovation based on no of patents...

I see all the Indian IT companies filing patents only to get numbers. Please tell me how many of them have been actually able to commercialize their patents. Moreover the patent process takes 2-4 years and by then the technology is already obsolete in the IT world so what is the idea?

It is just for the investor community that they want to run after patents. Real patents may be few and far between.