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Unleashing Enterprise

Angad Daryani, a 15 year-old from Mumbai, made headlines recently for building India’s first 3D printer. The young entrepreneur believes he can price it around Rs 20,000 ($335) which is a fraction of imported global brands that cost Rs 2.5-10 lakh. Angad is testimony to India’s potential leadership in ‘Affordable Innovation.’

I believe India has many bright youngsters like Angad with simple yet brilliant innovative ideas that can enable affordable access to cutting edge technologies which can make life enhancing changes.

All we need to do is to provide these bright minds the right ecosystem to ideate and innovate. I do believe that only through new ideas can we bring about transformational solutions for the challenges that confront us.

Encourage A Start- Up Culture

The need of the hour is to promote a start-up culture in India. The practical, problem-solving approach adopted by startups can bring innovative ways to improve the way we live.

For a strong start-up culture in India we need a robust innovation ecosystem that relies on: ease of starting business, accessing capital and markets and mentors. Most importantly, we need a policy for ease of closing business. India should emulate the world’s start-up capital – Silicon Valley.

Thirteen-year-old Shubham Banerjee, an Indian-origin student living in California, was in the news recently for inventing a low-cost printer for the blind. Even more interesting was the fact that Shubham became the youngest entrepreneur to get venture capital after Intel Capital decided to fund his start-up Braigo Labs which would make these printers.

Create An Innovation Ecosystem

India too needs an innovation ecosystem that can help put in place a virtuous financing cycle: academia generates ideas, especially those based on science and technology, which are incubated to proof of concept through public and private funding and then taken to market through business intervention backed by venture funding and capital markets. To build a national innovation ecosystem, we first need to build a national narrative around science and technology.

The need of the hour is to promote a start-up culture in India. The practical, problemsolving approach adopted by start-ups can throw up innovative ways with which to improve the way we live

In 5th century BC, the universities at Nalanda and Takshashila attracted scholars and students from distant lands. India gave the world the mathematical concept of ‘zero’ way back in the 9th century AD, revolutionising mathematics and setting the ball rolling for the emergence of our present day digital technology. The world was given a glimpse of India’s scientific capabilities when ISRO succeeded in putting Mangalyaan in orbit around Mars in its very first attempt. Described by the TIME magazine as one of the ‘Top 25 inventions of 2014,’ this project cost US$74 million, or a fraction of the money spent by other nations.

Investing in S&T

  • Science & Technology is of strategic importance to India’s future leadership.
  • Innovation is key to value-accretive growth and India needs to step up its investment in research and translational innovation.
  • There is urgent need to unleash the huge potential of our entrepreneurial energy by creating a virtuous cycle of invention and innovation that takes ‘ideas’ to the ‘market’.

This virtuous cycle involves three critical components :

1. Academia that discovers and invents new knowledge, new ideas, or new concepts;

2. Entrepreneurs who develop these ideas and concepts into “proof of concept”;

3. Industry that innovates these ideas and concepts into commercial products and technologies.

All three components need to be symbiotic to succeed and this cycle needs to follow a fiscal model that makes it self-perpetuating.

Academia needs public funding to pursue discovery and invention. Entrepreneurs need a combination of public and private funding to provide the critical risk and seed capital to translate concepts into “proof of concept”. Industry uses private funding from financial institutions, venture funds and capital markets to innovate and commercialise.

However, a financial cycle can only be sustained if there is monetisation at every stage. Academia needs to create intellectual property (IP) through discoveries and inventions that can be licensed to either entrepreneurs or directly to industry with royalty payments upon commercialisation. Entrepreneurs need to create valueadded IP that can be licensed to industry with royalties upon commercialisation. Industry needs to monetise through successful commercialisation that enables royalty payment. Such financial ecosystem will set the wheel spinning.

In our knowledge-driven economy, innovation is the primary driver of progress. India’s ability to generate wealth and create social good will come to naught unless we monetise innovative ideas by unshackling our entrepreneurial spirit. For innovation to flourish, ideas must be funded and taken to market. Without capital, even the most transformative ideas can die before they take flight. Until we are able to create a funding-financing ecosystem, innovation in India will continue to be a far- fetched dream.

Written By: Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw

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