Innovation -The Key to Indias Growth

Has “innovation” become yet another buzzword today, a passing fad… or is it truly the engine of growth?

While
one study published by Businessweek in association with Boston
Consulting Group reveals that 25% of new products launched by
established companies generate enthusiasm amongst users owing to
appropriate utilization of business innovation techniques, another
recent survey revealed that there was contention around the word
“innovation” itself, with 60% of respondents choosing to add their own
definitions. A majority looked at ideas from other domains instead of
brainstorming, prototyping, experimentation or collaboration (as a
technique for finding ideas). Further, most people ranked DaVinci as the
greatest innovator, followed by Edison and Steve Jobs (most didn’t know
who Tesla was)! On a side-note, how many of us can even name five
contemporary Indian scientists?

It is not surprising therefore, to
see many MNCs recently setting up Innovation Centres and Hubs in India,
but not even a single new product idea has come out from them as yet.
Many firms come out with an improvement over an existing product line
and tout that as an “innovation”. Clearly, most seem to be just paying
lip-service or trying to ride this latest bandwagon without the
slightest clue how to really go about the business of innovation.

One
can take a cue from leading global giants such as 3M, Xerox Parc, and
Ideo who are well known for giving us scotch-tape, photocopiers, and
stupendous designs. But not many know that Xerox Parc, for example, have
also come up with innovations such as laser printing, Ethernet, the
modern personal computer, graphical user interface (GUI),
object-oriented programming, ubiquitous computing, amorphous silicon
(a-Si) applications, and advancing very-large-scale-integration (VLSI)
for semiconductors, to name a few.

Some of these innovations had
the power to change the world. How many such examples can we cite coming
out from India or from an Indian company? As a nation, we already have
some of the most talented scientists, academicians, researchers and
engineers along with enough investors, VCs, funding, grants and seed
capital to make it all happen. Yet how many ‘Google’s or ‘Facebook’s
have we launched in the global markets? As the survey mentioned above
revealed, we are happy to “look at ideas from others instead of
brainstorming ourselves” – quite a sorry state of affairs for a country
poised to become the economic powerhouse of this century.

We need
to only look at the history of innovations and new product or technology
launches in US and Europe and correlate that data with the economic
progress of these markets to believe and understand that innovation
really does have the power to bring about a radical change and how it
does so.

However,
all is not lost, as there are a few companies in India such as UNIKEN
(technology innovation solution providers) and Hexolabs (of Mobile
Antakshari fame) who are working in niche areas but growing rapidly and
impacting global markets in an unprecedented way.

Uniken’s
Innovation Centre (located in Pune), is ready with a line of 20-30
innovations of which only two product applications have been launched so
far, and have already become runaway successes! VPSI (Virtual Private
Secure Internet) and TruBank secure internet banking solution are based
on the REL-ID mutual authentication and encryption protocol. This
technology has the potential to be a game-changer in the global BFSI
industry, with most of the leading banks in India having chosen to
deploy the same to protect their customers from cyber fraud and phishing
attacks.

Other innovations by Uniken cut across industry
verticals and have multiple applications – such as Hand Geometry
Biometric Verification System, a micro-AC, solar-powered farming and so
on. And most people would not even have heard about this company that
claims to be the only company in India which is in the “business of
innovation” and has some of the leading experts like Dr. Whitfield
Diffie and Dr. Pat Shankar on its Scientific Advisory Board.

As a
country we have to make a concerted effort to stop being experts at
imitation and start becoming masters of innovation, if we have to
leap-frog an entire generation of technological advances. And our
innovations should focus on developing technology and tools that can
improve the quality of life, make things simpler, better and easier –
and only then would we have created something that has the power to
bring about change.�

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