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INDIA’S INNOVATION CHALLENGES:Explainer



  Jun 19, 2024

INDIA’S INNOVATION CHALLENGES:Explainer



Introduction

India has made significant strides in technological advancements and digital infrastructure, yet it lags behind in the global innovation sector. Despite notable achievements, several factors contribute to this gap, including insufficient public funding for research, a lack of cutting-edge research labs, and an underdeveloped hardware industry.

Key Ingredients of the Innovation System

Human Capital

• Digital Competitiveness: India’s Digital Competitiveness Score of 60 (out of 100) places it ahead of all BRICS nations except China. The country boasts approximately 4.5 million IT professionals, including those in the software export industry.

• Tech Talent: India is second only to the US in the number of highly skilled technology professionals, with 60% of professionals in the export industry working for American companies.

Physical Capital

• Digital Infrastructure: India has 1.31 billion mobile phone users and significant data consumption. The country has achieved impressive milestones in digital public infrastructures, especially with UPI’s daily transactions expected to hit a billion by 2026.

• Lack of Research Labs: Despite the digital infrastructure, India lacks cutting-edge research labs and a robust hardware industry, crucial for leading global innovation.

Financial Capital

• Investment Comparison: Over the past decade, $145 billion has been invested in India, compared to China’s $835 billion and the US’s $2.3 trillion. The scarcity of financial capital is a significant constraint.

• Public Funding: Indian universities receive around $800 million annually in public funding, less than what a single prominent American university might receive.

Atal Innovation Mission (AIM)

Objectives and Initiatives

• Encouraging Innovation: Launched by the Government of India, AIM aims to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship across the country.

• Atal Tinkering Labs: Setting up labs in schools to foster creativity and scientific temper among students.

• Atal Incubation Centers: Establishing incubation centers to support startups and innovators in transforming their ideas into viable businesses.

• Mentor India Network: Building a network of mentors to guide and support budding innovators.

Impact and Reach

• School-Level Innovation: Thousands of Atal Tinkering Labs have been established in schools, encouraging students to engage in hands-on learning and innovative projects.

• Startup Support: Numerous Atal Incubation Centers provide resources, mentorship, and funding support to startups, helping them scale and succeed.

Patent Filings and Innovation Metrics

Patent Filings

• 2023 Statistics: India filed over 90,000 patents, averaging 247 patents per day, marking a 17% increase—the highest in two decades. However, it still falls short of the top 10 countries for patent filings.

• Global Comparison: In 2020, India filed nearly 57,000 patents, which is only 4% of China’s 1.49 million applications and 9.5% of the US’s 597,000 applications. India granted 23,361 patents compared to 530,000 in China and 350,000 in the US.

Reasons for Low Patent Filings

• Research Culture: The Indian research culture does not prioritize patent filing, unlike in the US where many patents are filed defensively for strategic reasons.

• Processing Delays: It takes about 58 months to process a patent application in India, compared to 20 months in China and 23 months in the US. This delay is primarily due to a shortage of manpower in the Indian patent office, which employs only 860 people compared to China’s 13,704 and the US’s 8,132.

Global Innovation Index (GII)

India’s Ranking and Aim

• Current Ranking: India retains the 40th rank out of 132 economies in the Global Innovation Index (GII) 2023 rankings published by the World Intellectual Property Organization. This marks significant progress from a rank of 81 in 2015.

• Aim: To climb higher in the GII rankings, India aims to enhance its innovation ecosystem by increasing public funding, improving research infrastructure, and fostering a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Reasons for Improvement

• Knowledge Capital: The consistent improvement in the GII ranking is attributed to India’s immense knowledge capital and vibrant startup ecosystem.

• Government Support: All Departments of the Government, including the Department of Science and Technology, Department of Biotechnology, Department of Space, and Department of Atomic Energy, have played pivotal roles in enriching the National Innovation Ecosystem. The Atal Innovation Mission has also been crucial in expanding the innovation ecosystem.

• Policy-Led Innovation: NITI Aayog has worked tirelessly to ensure policy-led innovation in areas such as electric vehicles, biotechnology, nanotechnology, space, and alternative energy sources. It has also expanded the innovation ecosystem in states and districts.

• Monitoring and Evaluation: Continuous monitoring and evaluation of India’s position in global rankings by NITI Aayog have been essential in guiding policy and innovation efforts.

Collaboration

• Confederation of Indian Industry (CII): CII has collaborated in India’s journey towards an innovation-driven economy. In partnership with NITI Aayog and WIPO, CII hosted the India Launch of the GII 2023 on 29th September 2023.

Conclusion

While India faces significant challenges in leading the global innovation sector, there are positive developments and potential for growth. Initiatives like the Atal Innovation Mission, increased public funding, and a focus on improving research infrastructure will be crucial for India to become an innovation capital of the world.




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