India on the road to becoming an innovation-driven economy

The Indian government is working towards making the country an innovation-driven economy. On the cards is an investment of Rs 200 crore (US $ 31 million) to set up 100 more incubators across the country to support startups in innovation.

India currently ranks 66th out of 128 countries on the Global innovation Index (GII) 2016.

“Innovation will be the only way for sustainable prosperity for the country,” said Human Resources Development Minister Prakash Javadekar.

"As we want to double the number of incubators over the next four years, we will spend Rs 200 crore on setting up 100 more incubators under the National Initiative for Developing and Harnessing Innovations (NIDHI) programme," Science and Technology Secretary Ashutosh Sharma noted.

The Science and Technology (S&T) Department of the Central government has set up 100 incubators across the country to support startups in innovation. The department has also finalised locations to build five of the 50 super-computers this year for supporting research activities.

"Of the five supercomputers, one each will be housed in the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru, the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) at Kharagpur in West Bengal and Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh, the International Institute of Information Technology at Pune in Maharashtra, and Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi," added Sharma.

Six of the 50 supercomputers to be built in India to aid research would be ready this year.

"We have finalised the sites to house these supercomputers. One supercomputer each will be housed at Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, and International Institute of Information Technology, Pune," Sharma said.

The supercomputers are being set up across the country under the National Supercomputing Mission at a cost of Rs 4,500 crore (US $ 698 million) over the next seven years.

Measures have been taken to increase investment in science and technology and research and development (R&D) to two per cent of the Gross Domestic Product per annum from one per cent of the GDP. Asserting that the government was committed to promoting R&D in the country, Sharma said the private sector should contribute more funds to R&D activities.

"The central government contributes two-third of the amount spent on R&D as against one-third by the private sector. It is vice-versa in other countries. We want the private sector to invest more funds in R&D activities," added Sharma.

Earlier this year, government think tank NITI Aayog, Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) launched the India Innovation Index that will rank states on innovations through country’s first online innovation index portal that will capture data on innovation from all Indian states on innovation and regularly update it in real time.

The India Innovation Index Framework will be structured based on the best practices followed in Global Innovation Index (GII) indicators and additionally by adding India-centric parameters those truly reflect the Indian innovation ecosystem. This initiative will be the point of reference for all international agencies to collect India’s up to date data points for global indices and analytics.

Inaugurating the portal, Amitabh Kant, CEO NITI Aayog said, “This portal will be a first-of-its-kind online platform where Global Innovation Index indicators and India–centric data from various states will be coalesced and disseminated and updated periodically. This will be a one-stop data warehouse and will track progress on each indicator at the National level and the State level on real-time basis. The access to this portal will be hosted on the NITI Aayog website, and NITI Aayog will update this data periodically.”

Data collated on this portal will not only be used to ameliorate current data gaps with regard to the GII, but be the prime source for the India Innovation Index, which will be jointly developed by NITI Aayog, DIPP and CII, in consultation with World Economic Forum, the World Intellectual Property Organization, Cornell University, OECD, UNIDO, ILO, UNESCO, ITU and others with the objective to rank Indian states as per their innovation prowess and provide impetus to them to build their respective innovation ecosystems and spur the innovation spirit among institutions and people.

The Global Innovation Index (GII), co-published by World-Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Cornell University and INSEAD, has been ranking world economies including India since 2007 according to their innovation capabilities and outcomes using 82 indicators among a host of other important parameters.  It has established itself as both a leading reference on innovation and a ‘tool for action’ for policy makers.

Ramesh Abhishek, Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, Government of India said, “GII gives us an opportunity to look at innovation and to rethink about our progress. This also gives an opportunity to compare with the best in the world, to look at best practices around and then learn from them. DIPP has formed a taskforce on innovation with representation from industry, academia and government, through this taskforce we are trying to improve our GII ranking.”