IP and Innovation Ecosystem
By: – Ruchita Singh, Manager, CIPAM
“Any society that does not innovate, stagnates ” – Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi.
India is going upwards and onwards in terms of economic power and emerging as one of the hotspots for offshore corporate R&D. The Innovation ecosystem in India has been instrumental in stimulating a sustained growth in economy and also encouraging national competitiveness. The mantra for successful exploitation of a novel idea has been rightly envisioned by renowned Indian scientist Padmavibhushan Dr. R A Mashelkar: More from Less for More through Innovations. India Innovation or Indovation or Jugaad or frugal innovation is not uncommon to the world. India’s capability to engage in low cost, unique innovation has already created a big stir among technology enthusiasts.
India has been a hub of innovations since time immemorial. The concept of Intellectual Property in India dates back to Indus Valley civilization, also known as the Harappan Civilization (2500 B.C.); and the Vedic age (1500-600 B.C.). The Indus Valley Civilization heralded the concept of trademarks, where the pottery were marked to differentiate manufacturers’ products from one another. The world is now acknowledging the power of Ayurveda and Yoga for the betterment of life; interestingly, these concepts were developed in India around 3000 years ago. The dominance of India in innovations is well understood from Albert Einstein’s quote “We owe a lot to Indians who taught us how to count, without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have been made”. Innovation and new ideas not only stimulate a sustained growth in economy, but also encourage national competitiveness. Product market competition drives enterprises to recreate and innovate. The importance of innovation was realised by the declaration of years 2010-2020 as ‘‘Decade of Innovation’, by the President of India.
Innovation is successful exploitation of novel technologies, ideas or methods either through introduction of new products or processes, or an improvement over existing ones. There is a strong relationship between value enhancement and problem solving ability with an innovative mindset. It is evident that a problem can catalyse creation of innovations out of challenges. Building up Innovation capacity requires a streamlined transition of research into market. An embryonic idea needs to be nurtured, protected and allowed to develop into a potentially mature product, process or a business plan. The innovation cycle starts with conception of an idea followed by its prototype or a working model, validation and implementation followed by successful commercialization.
India’s innovative strength lies in its “people and their minds”. Many prominent innovators have been
instrumental in driving innovation building capacity in India. Dr. Vikram Sarabhai conceptualised institutions such as Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad Textile Industry’s Research Association (ATIRA), Operations Research Group (ORG) and the famous Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Ahmedabad. Dr. Sarabhai also played a pivotal role in fostering India’s space program. Another visionary, Mr. Narayan Murthy (founder of Infosys) transformed the Indian IT industry landscape with his innovative vision and strategy. Dr. Verghese Kurien, heralded the “white revolution” in India in the form of Anand Milk Union Limited (AMUL); a great innovative concept around milk. Another classic case study of “core process innovation” is reflected in the Mumbai Dabbawala system, now known and studied worldwide. The National Innovation Foundation (NIF), GoI aims to strengthen such innovative grassroot and indigenous technologies and facilitate their penetration into the global marketspace.
On the global innovation index (GII), India is on an upward trajectory, rising from a rank of 81 in 2015 to 46 in 2021. This is an outcome of a robust ecosystem of research and development (R&D), skilled manpower, intellectual property filings along with technology and knowledge intensive start-ups. There are great efforts at domestic and international level to facilitate IP filings through sensitization programs, entrepreneurship development, Innovation management, legal safeguards, business avenues and technology transfer programs. The Indian R&D is fast gearing up to the concepts of Technology Business Incubators (TBIs), Technology and Innovation Support Centres (TISCs), various government funding mechanisms and external funding from venture capitalists and angel investors. The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) provides a framework to reduce the processing time for IPRs to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship in the country. Effective IP systems provide incentives to invest towards R&D, trigger innovation and encourage technology co-operation among various stakeholders. Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), is NITI Aayog’s endeavour to ensure creation of a problem-solving innovative mindset in schools and creating an ecosystem of entrepreneurship in educational and research institutions, private and MSME sector.
Armed with an intellectual property regime, skilled workforce, adaptation of information and communications technology (ICT), and myriad government policies and initiatives; to name a few- Digital India, Atal Innovation Mission, Make in India, “Vocal for Local” campaign, and Start-up India, the Indian economy is transforming into an “Innovation Economy”. Educational and public research institutions, start-ups and Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) contribute effectively towards research and innovation. To encourage creativity and innovation among the start-ups, a scheme named Start-ups Intellectual Property Protection (SIPP) has been launched, wherein, the start-ups can avail a rebate amounting to 80 per cent on the patent filing fees. Recent patents (amendment rules, 2021) allow similar rebates for educational institutions and MSMEs. Such support provided by the Indian government would equip the budding industries and inventors to protect and incentivise their inventions. Establishment of technology parks, technology transfer offices, (TTOs) and TISCs provide end-to end mechanisms for IP filings and technology commercialization. The national IPR policy (2016) laid down a roadmap to foster innovation and creativity through IPR awareness, creation, commercialization and enforcement. Several initiatives such as AGNIi (Accelerating the Growth of New India’s Innovations), support the innovation ecosystem by connecting innovators (including grassroot innovators) to the market and facilitate commercialization of their innovative solutions. The Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) supports high-risk, early starters from academia, start-ups, or incubators that have exciting ideas in the nascent or planning stage.
IP definitely serves as a life-line for innovations to seamlessly tide over their “Valley of Death”. The strategy for successful innovation building is to tap the power of knowledge, power of IPRs, and power of innovative ideas to empower indovation. Entrepreneur-friendly policies along with a strong intellectual property regime encourages competition and create incentives for innovations. The need of the hour is optimal channelizing of technical know-how through innovation identification, Intellectual property rights sensitization, and incentivization..
Innovations are mind set and require optimal conditioning for transformation into reality.