Indian initiatives in R&D and innovation are a beacon of hope for the third world countries

Indian initiatives in R&D and innovation are a beacon of hope for the third world countries
Chief Guest Dr Harsh Vardhan, Hon’ble Union Minister of Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Govt. of India; flanked by Mrs Kampeta Sayinzoga, Director General, National Industrial Research & Development Agency, Kigali, Rwanda & Mr Nirankar Saxena, Dy Secretary General, FICCI; releasing the India - Rwanda Annual Report, on completion of one year of partnership, at the two day 'Global R & D Summit 2019', organised by FICCI in partnership with the Department of Science & Technology, Govt. of India, at Hyderabad, on Friday. As Shri S K Varshney, (extreme left) Head-International Cooperation (Bilateral), Dept. of Science & Technology, Govt. of India & Mr T Murlidharan, (extreme right) Chairman-FICCI Telangana; look on.

Hyderabad, February 22nd, 2019: Chief Guest Dr Harsh Vardhan, Hon’ble Union Minister of Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Govt. of India; delivered the Keynote Address, at the Special Session on the concluding day of the two day ‘Global R & D Summit 2019′, organised by FICCI in partnership with the Department of Science & Technology, Govt. of India, at Hyderabad, on Friday. Also present on the occasion were Guests of Honour, Hon’ble Nkandu Luo, Minister of Higher Education, Government of the Republic of Zambia; Hon’ble Engineer Getahun Mekuria, Minister of Science & Technology, Govt. of the Republic of Ethiopia; Shri S K Varshney, Head-International Cooperation (Bilateral), Department of Science & Technology, Govt. of India; Mrs Kampeta Sayinzoga, Director General, National Industrial Research & Development Agency, Kigali, Rwanda; Mr Ajit Rangnekar, DG -Research and Innovation Circle, Hyderabad, Govt. of Telangana Initiative; Mr T Murlidharan, Chairman-FICCI Telangana State; Mr Nirankar Saxena, Deputy Secretary General, FICCI and Mr Munish Gupta, Advisor- FICCI India Rwanda Innovation Growth Program.

Indian initiatives in R&D and innovation are a beacon of hope for the third world countries 

Speaking on the occasion Dr Harsh Vardhan said, India’s science and technology achievements have steadfastly triggered India’s growth and delivered socio-economic development, the vision of our honourable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modiji, is to share our technology and innovations for shared prosperity of our partner nations in Africa. India wishes to also create bilateral and multilateral with likeminded South-South cooperation and partners to forge collaboration to ensure sustainable growth in the developing countries. I am delighted to note that this year’s partner continent is Africa. The Ministry of Science and Technology, in India has been conducting multiple programs in and with Africa, implemented by FICCI’s center for innovation, Science and Technology commercialization called FICCI CTAP. For several decades India has provided scholarships to several African students. Researchers and Fellow are invited to specialised institutions. We have helped this model and have established institutions of collaborative research, capacity building and enterprise development.

Just two years ago India began a new initiative, I would like to particularly mention of the first ever and unique technology sharing and transfer program, the India Rwanda Innovation growth Program, that has successfully demonstrated that validated, robust, affordable technology led innovations from India can be adopted and adapted and deployed for triggering sustainable inclusive growth in our strategic partner country of Rwanda. I am delighted to know that in the very first year this pilot program matched 11 enterprises and Institutions from India with 14 enterprises and Institutions in Rwanda. The program is unique in that it assess and addresses the needs of the recipient country.

In the first year the India Rwanda Program include 100% compostable sanitary that are critical to educating the girl child, women empowerment through livelihood creation and most importantly ensuring female hygiene and health, besides developing a full blown leather park with the entire value chain and the last mile delivery of an affordable high speed broadband that today is a must to fulfill the aspirations of the masses and ensure provision of services to them. India is now proud to scale this program to benefit another important partner Ethiopia. I hope as an extension of these programs we are able to stimulate collaborations in R&D and further innovate to potentially deliver present and future solutions. India is among the top ranking countries in the field of basic research.

The year 2018 has seen India research and development with technology led innovation getting further recognition as one of the most powerful instruments of growth and development. Department of Science and Technology with the objective of promoting new areas of science and technology, plays the role of a nodal department for organising, coordinating and promoting science and technology activities in the county. R&D in science and technology leads to innovation and innovation in turn leads to economic growth.

R&D typically comes from two sources, that is private R&D which is what large companies in the area of pharma and electronics do and public R&D of Government exploration in defense, atomic energy, space and agriculture. A survey conducted by DST shows that India is amongst the top 13 countries in terms of public sector in R&D along with USA, Russia, UK and others. Over 80% of the R&D spent in India comes from research agencies like DRDO, ISRO, ICAR, Department of Atomic Energy, CSIR. India offers distinct advantages to offer R&D, firstly the burgeoning aspirational  middle class presents the huge market for a host of products, this is a great starting point for innovation and R&D. Secondly India boasts of a large pool of English speaking manpower, which is hard to find in most countries, this makes execution of R&D plans much easier.

Lastly the Government has catalytic R&D policy and upgraded infrastructure in India is at par with most nations. India has instituted adequate regulatory and tax incentives. In many cases India offers R&D super deductions to the tune of 200% which is at par with the best in the world. From a direct tax perspective tax, R&D spending offers tax breaks and incentives for R&D contribution in the form of accelerated depreciation. There are incentives in indirect taxes such as customs duty exemption for import of specific goods for R&D. Beyond the central government incentives state governments also offer additional incentives for R&D. Science and Technology, R&D and now innovation is the culture of new and dynamic India. Despite our immense challenges, the Central and state governments, the academia and the industry have begun to forge a synergistic working relationships.

The public at large has been drawn into the process. India has created an unparalleled innovation ecosystem. Well funded schemes today induce innovative ideas that germinate from grassroots including tinkering labs and primary to higher secondary level, going up to grand challenges that involve young minds at colleges and universities. Technology and business experts mentor the conversion of validated ideas into products and services that solve problems. India boasts of premier R&D institutions both private and public that follow a focused approach with well defined deliverables. Sector specific employable skills drive manufacturing and delivery of services. All these fuel our inclusive and steady economic growth.

India is a powerhouse today with cutting edge technology and innovation on one hand and on another we create sustainable social enterprises especially in rural areas and are able to scale enough of them. we are improvising the ecosystem every day and we are offering not only within our country but are willing to share our shared prosperity with our partner nations. It is the only way to achieve the UN sustainable development goals. This Summit stimulates need based technology transfers, acquisitions, R&D collaborations for products and services of the future. Working collectively, India and developing countries especially from Africa could create a new paradigm in South-South cooperation across thematic areas, such as agriculture food processing, healthcare, metals and mining, renewable energy, new materials, clean and green energies and many interventions that should help us to deliver inclusive and sustainable growth in our respective economies.

We have a great visionary leader in our Prime Minster Narendra Modi and is being appreciated all over the world. India is having a golden period under his able leadership. Earlier Prime Minister Vajpayeeji who brought Science to the centre stage in our country, added Jai Vignan to the earlier Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan and Shri Modi added another dimension to it of Jai Anusandan recently. This Government is committed to innovation ecosystem that there is a robust Startup and Standup program, any young or old mind, formally educated or not, has a bright idea in his mind and wants to convert it into an entrepreneurship program, he has the vision to deliver something good for the country for the benefit of the society, the Government of Modi stands solidly behind such individuals, by giving financial support but also mentoring them with best possible minds or scientific acumen in the country, research institutions in the country. That’s why we have seen so many innovations in the last couple of years in the country accumulating. If you visit National innovation center in Ahmedabad, you will come across over 2 lakh innovations there. Today the bigger issue is there are so many innovations, how do you take them to the people of India, how do you commercialize them.

To give a brief idea, we have a list of 1207 high caliber research institutions supported by public funding, they do research, develop technologies and transfer the technologies for the benefit of the people. These institutions ensure India to be at 9th rank as per Scimago ranking globally. We are the 3rd in the world in terms of nano technology, in Tsunami early warning we are probably number one in the whole world, weather forecasting, cyclone assessment, ocean studies etc., we are 4th in the whole world. We are 6th in the whole world in terms of scientific publications, the growth rate of which is 40% in India as against 4% international growth rate. Our prime minister has a clear vision to make India amongst the top 2 or 3 scientific nations of the world by the year 2030. After being the Science and Technology Minister for 5 years and having visited all the scientific institutions in the country I have the conviction that science has the potential to solve every problem earth.

Mr T Murlidharan, in his welcome address said, India, Africa, collaboration is a classic example of mutual cooperation. The focus of this Summit is collaboration amongst various stake holders, to address the vital issues of research and most importantly commercialization. Innovation and R&D are the key drivers of economic growth today. FICCI has established good working relationship with over 45 countries for collaboration in Science and Technology.

The Summit is a significant annual initiative of the FICCI with the core objective of promoting R and D in the field of Science and Technology. It is hosted in a different city every year and this year’s venue is Hyderabad. Each year the partner country at the Summit varies, and this year’s Partner Countries are the Nations from the African Continent. The Focus sectors of this year’s Summit are Agriculture, Health Care, Food Processing and Clean Energy. The Focus sectors are determined on the basis of the Sectors, Partner Countries evince interest in. Large delegations comprising of Ministers and senior officials of Ethopia, Rwanda and Zambia, along with delegates from other African counties are attending the Summit.

Some of the topics being deliberated at the Summit during the two days are State of R&D in India and bilateral opportunities; Disrupting Industry through Product Innovation; Problems & Challenges for Commercialization of R&D Products & Processes-Innovative Approaches; Transforming the dialogue between commercial and R&D groups- Focus on Risk Management and Contribution of Women in Research & Development. Concurrent with the conference, a Technology Expo is being hosted to showcase major achievements and capabilities of leading R&D-focused organizations from Industry, Government and Academia.

The Summit is in line with the vision of our Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, to share our science, technology and innovation with Africa for shared prosperity. FICCI helped nurture and build deep grassroots connect with hundreds of top researchers/entrepreneurs across Africa who now understand technology innovation and commercialization. This has established a good working relationship with more than 45 African countries.