Research, Innovation & Technology have emerged as imperatives for the sustainable growth of India in coming years. Indeed, Research, Innovation & Technology have been playing a key role in the progress of humanity at large, and we have felt their influence in our lives all the more during the ongoing pandemic crisis. We live in a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous) world on steroids, and going forward it is the Research, Innovation & Technology which will be our tool to ride the waves of uncertainty and ambiguity.

India is one of the leading nations in the world in terms of Research, Innovation & Technology prowess. We are set on the right path with a leap of 35 places in 6 years, from a rank of 81 in 2015 to a rank of 46 in 2021, on the Global Innovation Index. India aspires to become a $5 trillion economy and has also set a target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2070, and our expertise in these areas will pave the way for the realization of our ambitious targets. 

This is an opportune time to drive technology led sustainable growth by focusing on India relevant emerging technologies. The key technologies that would spur the next level of transformation for India will be in the areas of mobility, semi-conductor design and manufacturing, nanomaterials like graphene, green energy, hydrogen as a fuel, and others. These are the technologies that will help pave the way to cleaner and more efficient energy for a prosperous future. Moreover, technologies like 5G, Artificial Intelligence, data security, digitization, and vaccine research would unlock the real potential of India. 

The fast development of these technologies requires extensive research and investments and would need us to leverage the entire innovation ecosystem. The biggest challenge for India is the discrete nature of developments happening at various agencies on these emerging technologies. 

It is a time to synergize the efforts into a comprehensive technology ecosystem. All the stakeholders must be able to identify technologies of national importance and prioritize them for investment and implementation. There must be structured mechanisms for seamless working of industry, government bodies, and academic institutions and research labs to achieve the goals.

 We need to leverage the huge knowledge asset in the form of public funded research laboratories and academic institutions and incubate the ideas with seed funding and commercialize them with the help of industry backed venture funding. Further, Industry and Government must also evaluate and enable joint investments particularly for high-risk and high-investment projects for de-risking. 

We have witnessed a tremendous vibrancy in the start-up ecosystem. These start-ups, led by talented entrepreneurs – both men and women – showcase the potential of young India. It is a time to nurture them so that they can realize their true potential. We must create a mechanism for an enabling environment for start-ups in terms of an investment pool for Research, Innovation & Technology, access to resources, incentivizing technology investments in focus sectors, support in testing and scaling up, to name a few. 

Sustainable development is the way forward to meet our global commitments and growth aspirations. Research, Innovation & Technology are the levers that must be optimally utilized by prioritizing technologies and sectors and developing active platforms to harness synergies for sustainable development. 

Some of the immediate priority areas for policy making in the Research, Innovation & Technology ecosystem could be – 

  • To create an enabling platform to identify and prioritize India relevant emerging technologies and propel them with a focused strategy, scale and speed.
  • To enable seamless collaboration and partnerships across government agencies, industries and academic institution to harness synergies.
  • To incentivize technology investments for focused sectors.

The above initiatives would ensure that as a nation we are on right track to drive and achieve ‘Research, Innovation & Technology led sustainable growth’.

The article by Vipin Sondhi, Chairman, CII National Mission on Technology, Innovation & Research and Former Managing Director & CEO, Ashok Leyland and JCB India Ltd, first appeared in the February 2022 issue of CII Policy WatchClick here to read.

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