The foundation of an innovative ecosystem

September 24, 2015

Silicon Valley is touted as the Mecca of innovation because of its foundation of relevant technology skills and a strong reward system. Its success lies in building a globally competitive innovation and IPR portfolio and having clear channels for monetization.

The role of the government in this includes maintaining strong professional institutions, STEM push, and openness to invite superior technology skills from abroad and building financially acceptable and transparent IPR valuation models. While this appears commonsensical, it is also a very difficult state to achieve.

A large number of startups in India with great technological muscle still find it difficult to even register for fiscal incentives with the government as authorities act with apathy. There is lack of transparency in granting of incentives against brilliant patents and other IPRs. A law to protect trade secrets is non-existent and every foreign delegation wishing to expand its footprint of technology investments in India always asks the same questions:

1. How enforceable are Indian contracts on IPR and trade secret?

2. Does the Indian worker have a strong work ethic that he can resist divulging trade secrets to a competitor?

3. Is a breach of confidentiality agreement enforceable?

Indians occupy prominent positions in almost a third of global innovation engines (read companies) around the world, but are incapable of replicating the same success here in India. MNCs who want to invest in India find it difficult to do business in the country. Changing policies at a quick pace without offering time, training and monitoring the outcome would essentially amount to paying lip service rather than modifying behaviours which would lead to a change in work culture. This can have a very damaging impact on the country’s reputation as a place for investing in technology and doing business.

We as Indians believe that India has the capability to achieve the impossible. The important question to ask is whether the government, industry, legal environment and people are ready to embrace the change that accompanies it. Are we just looking outwards or focusing on the people responsible to make that change happen?

It is time we looked inward to transform mindsets, work on a change in management paradigm in transforming India to a product, process and service innovation leader for the world instead of just a provider of skills.

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