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© 2002 IBM Corporation 1 Can India be an Innovation Superpower C. Mohan, Ph.D. IBM Fellow & Former IBM India Chief Scientist

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Presentation on theme: "© 2002 IBM Corporation 1 Can India be an Innovation Superpower C. Mohan, Ph.D. IBM Fellow & Former IBM India Chief Scientist"— Presentation transcript:

1 © 2002 IBM Corporation 1 Can India be an Innovation Superpower C. Mohan, Ph.D. IBM Fellow & Former IBM India Chief Scientist UC Santa Cruz Mapping the Future of India Lecture Series India Community Center, Milpitas, CA, USA 24 March

2 2 Caveats Personal opinions, NOT to be interpreted as IBMs Basis: extensive experiences, not systematic study Highly subjective and debatable impressions/conclusions: exceptions to everything Passionate about India while being a realist and not wishful thinker Never been a people/money manager but exposed to and/or party to strategic/global decision making in a $100B MNC – 28 years! Bias: high tech, given my background No claims to being an expert on innovation but well traveled outside India/US also exposed extensively to industrial/academic work Candid, not trying to be politically correct

3 3 Innovation Ecosystem Government: Infrastructure, Incubation/Research Funding, Intellectual Property protection, R&D Labs Universities: Faculty including adjunct, Students, Teaching Vs Research, Consulting, Incubation Public/Private firms: R&D labs, Visionary leaders, Univ linkages Funding Entities: Banks, VC firms, Govt agencies – debt Vs equity Networking/Trade Bodies: Mentoring, Standards Customers, especially domestic Society at Large: Cultural attitudes on questioning authority, Relatives, Money focus, Press, Relevant role models

4 4 Example: Innovation Ecosystem at IBM Well-defined and highly appreciated technical career path Technical Execs: Fellows, Distinguished Engineers (DEs) Senior Technical Staff Member (STSM), Architects, … Invention disclosures, patent plateaus, Master Inventors: money and peer recognition, factors in technical promotions; Extra incentives for new areas Rewards: Corporate Innovation / Patent Portfolio awards, Outstanding Innovation / Technical Achievement Awards (OIAs/ OTAAs) Internal and external conferences IBM Academy of Technology (AoT), Architecture Boards Measurement criteria, even in Research division Patents CEO milestones Internal and external awards Product impact Publications

5 5 Avenues for Technical Participation & Leadership Computing Infrastructure Services Deployment Models Standards & Policies Social Accessible, Open Computing based Business Flexible, Scalable, Innovative Business Models Global Market Leadership through Innovation Asset based services model Governments & Industries Standards and policy formation e-Governance & opportunities in Public Sector Local Market Thought Leadership Integrated Solutions & Services

6 6 Types of Innovation Product Service Business model Business process Policy and society Innovation Metrics Patents Products with deep technologies – not me too businesses PhDs Publications in journals/conf which win awards Revenue from technology cross licensing …

7 7 Backdrop Satellites, moon mission, atomic energy, defense Fairly successful Indian pharma companies $2500 Nano Car Indian companies foreign forays Great emphasis at highest levels of government PM to past president on down DSTs major funding of nano tech, solar; bilateral agreements MHRD on education funding/reforms Indian Nobel Laureates and numerous other highly accomplished scientists/technologists outside India Highly successful India IT services business Numerous MNC research/product labs in India for a long time

8 8 Essential Attributes for Innovation Sheer intellect, analytical thinking, synthesis, inquisitiveness Sustained work in an area Maniacal focus and attention to detail Appreciation for long term technical careers and role models Soft skills and belief in collaborating with other people Risk taking and handling failures gracefully Dedicated follow through to turn invention to innovation Scale: pockets of brilliance insufficient for meaningful impact Paths/desire for faculty to turn research into commercial impact Truly serious collaboration between academia and industry Startups versus established companies

9 9 Good Signs IITs made to concentrate more on graduate education/research; more IISc-like places; … Tech festivals (in even 3 rd tier colleges) with S&T leaders as speakers Science conclaves, Inspire programs for school & college students Mobile: free incoming calls/SMSs was an Indian revolution which opened up a whole host of possibilities, dual SIM phone, … Zinnov helps in setting up India R&D operations NEA Indo-US Ventures, Helion, Intellectual Ventures, Murthys Catamaran, … DST: India Innovation Pioneers Challenge, Inspire, Certification & Training of Technology Commercialization Specialists, Women Scientists Scheme, India-Israel Initiative for Industrial R&D, India-Taiwan Cooperation in S&T IIScs SID, Nasscom awards/conclave, CII Innovation focus, NRDC Innovation Awards, Infosys innovation prizes Foreign universities being allowed to operate in India

10 10 Issues Way too much focus on compensation – all know/discuss it! Work quality, leaving a legacy, … become secondary goals, if at all Sense of entitlement, instant gratification pervade youth from day one at work Lots of MoU signings between industry & academia, and Indian & foreign univs – more photo ops, not enough serious follow ups Not enough accountability of outcomes with R&D investments When good does happen, not enough publicity/documentation Not enough interest in postgraduate education/research Tempting to blame convenient scapegoats: infrastructure, government, politicians, bureaucracy, corruption, reservations, … Those dont explain why ROI hasnt been significant for the past investments – society at large is also equally, if not more, guilty!

11 11 Issues Only lip service provided on striving for excellence In spite of becoming modern in many ways, hierarchy still matters and questioning authority is frowned on Too often looking westward for requirements/problems when local customers do have non-trivial problems to innovate on Acute shortage of soft skills; true desire for collaboration lacking even in faculty (within/outside the univ) Not all entrepreneurship equals being innovative! Quantum leap in level of professionalism needed Doing subcontract/QA work may bring in money but cost arbitrage wont be sustainable – have to move up the food chain Too much of narrow grunt work and not enough indulgence in exploration on the side as skunk works by individuals Managing technologists/products requires special mgmt skills

12 12 Patents as a Measure December 9, 2009

13 13 R & D Expenditures

14 14 NRIs and Their Transformational Role Indian diaspora can play a significant role and it SHOULD – we owe it to our mother country – change from complainers to doers! Even if India move/assignments not taken up, can still help This role goes beyond sending money to India or investing money in India or sitting on boards/committees and such Even regular visitors to India dont spend enough time really understanding what is going on and what needs to go on Engage more at the grassroots level Become role models and instigators of a different way of thinking in techies as well as management Shape kids at an early age, act as change agents for society at large

15 15 Can India be an Innovation Superpower? It has the potential, especially in knowledge-based areas, but to realize it some major changes are needed Some people say: it is not a question of Can but When! I disagree!! There is no guarantee that the potential will be realized at the current course and pace. Russia has(d) very large pool of scientists/engineers and did develop significant technologies/products but those didnt guarantee Russia innovation superpower status France, Germany, UK have been in IT forever but never attained a significant/sustained level of innovation Big difference: national missions (BARC, ISRO, DRDO) Vs private ones The whole innovation ecosystem needs to improve and I really hope it does so SOON!

16 16 References India: The Uneven Innovator, Kirsten Bound, 2007, ISBN , Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, In India, Anxiety Over the Slow Pace of Innovation, Vikas Bajaj, New York Times, 8 December 2009 CII Raunaq Singh Innovation Grid, Emerging Market Companies Ascending the Value Curve: Rationale, Motivation & Strategies, R.T. Krishnan, K. Kumar, Strategic Management Society Mini-Conference, Hong Kong, 12/2003 Can India become an Innovation Powerhouse? R.T. Krishnan China Versus India – Reality Check for Pharma R&D, L. Li, L. Kang, S. Gentela, Korn/Ferry International, 2008 Reports by Zinnov, htt://

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