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Wednesday, December 04, 2013

'Innovation without Research': Concept for comments

Framework of concept paper given below for comments. This deals with technological innovations.

a)    Corporate R&D started weaning away researchers from universities by offering better facilities and freedom. In-house research centers blossomed with hundreds of highly qualified and competent scientists and researchers working in frontier areas of Science &Technology. During the boom period returns on investment in R&D  was not an issue, firms spent a percentage of their turnover benchmarking the spend with industry average.
b)    Despite large budget and acclaimed outcome, many a time firm noticed they could not compete with fast moving players. Categorization into small r, capital D followed, proving space for catch up work. It is expected that capital D projects, smal duration projects aimed at bettering competition would derive strength from capital R work. The pool of competences developed with capital R projects could be harvested for both capital R and capital D projects, where the firm is the industry leader but also for capital D projects benchmarking competitors product in the market place, with faster response. Portfolio of R & D projects, all marshaled with internal resources was in order for many years.
c)    Sponsored research was always an integral part , researchers generally continued working with alumni institute. Strategic alliances was an acknowledgement of limitation of doing everything in-house and complex strategies evolved for managing strategic alliance with shadow teams, IP sharing , market segmentation etc. acquisition of start-ups for their IP was more smoother operation.
d)    Open innovation and crowd sourcing  was a disruptive practice, firms looked at the vast pool of global talent and shifted focus from ownership to access. The complexity of innovation challenges and multiple teams accepting those challenges call for redefining the contours of global stock of knowledge.
e)    Globalization had seen relative decline in competitiveness of OECD nations and most analysts agree the only way these nations can continue to save jobs is to invest in R&D. With the result, we had seen larger number of talented people working on commercial research than ever before in human history.
f)     The pipeline taking research to market bellowed at the research end leading to a jump in global stock of knowledge. Considering the large ownership base, it can be said this stock of knowledge is publicly owned. This worked wonders for crowd sourcing of ideas, innovation challenges.
g)    And this also provides an unique opportunity for catching up economies like India to improve their innovation score without proportionate increase in national R&D budget. India , a poor nation more on R&D than Australia, Finland etc. Historically , most of spending was by government for scientific and research projects. Whereas, the industry garnered market and developed technological competences based on imported technology. Thus there was a significant disconnect between government funded research institutes and commercial firms. Globalization and IT widened  the rift to disconnect of minds. Collapse of joint ventures ended the inexhaustible source of competitive technology with most technology suppliers setting up their own Indian operations. New generation entrepreneurs smelled better success in IT enable services and largest number of engineers today work in IT firms rather than assembly lines. The  so called Indian human resource strength ends  with students graduation , still Indian government continues to increase their budgets for research by government funded institutes, calling industry to take the fruits of that public spend.
h)    India is a large country needing jobs in all categories and there is revival of interest in manufacturing mainly due to market demand and IT players are looking for value addition beyond labour arbitrage.

Hypothesis 1
Indian government can get better returns by funding proposals in capital D category based on globally sourced capital R.

Hypothesis 2

India firms need to practice and learn to use Open innovation Platforms. 

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