Chicago – The man behind the telecommunication revolution in India, which has connected millions over the last couple decades, on Thursday (July 18) called for the pragmatic use of new technologies to solve problems of poverty in a nation of a booming population of more than a billion.
Giving the keynote address at the India Innovation Summit organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in Chicago, Sam Pitroda, advisor to the Indian Prime Minister on Public Information Infrastructure and Innovation said, “Diversity has always been the backbone of innovation in India. In solving the challenges of development, demography, and disparity, we’ll need expansion, excellence and equity.”
Pitroda, who is also Chairman of the National Innovation Council, added, “Today, as a nation of a connected billion, a first in the history of the world, we need to leverage emerging technologies, including social media, to help alleviate the enormous problem of poverty.”
CII President S. Gopalakrishnan, who was leading a CII CEOs delegation to the Summit, echoed Pitroda’s sentiments, saying that the need of the hour is to empower a large number of people using mobile connectivity and cloud computing platforms and make them a part of the knowledge revolution, which would ultimately contribute to economic growth.
“Innovation generates economic value, new jobs and a culture of entrepreneurship. By virtue of its relationship with competitiveness, innovation emerges as a factor in promoting economic growth,” Gopalakrishnan said.
The Summit explored ways to encompass key policy interventions, funding mechanisms, and partnership opportunities between India and the US in the innovation space.
Stressing the need to enhance public-private partnerships (PPPs), Vikram Kirloskar, Chairman of the CII Innovation Council and Vice Chairman of Toyota-Kirloskar Motor, explained the association between mutual trust and mutual benefit.
“Mutual trust will lead to mutual benefit. The public and private sector cannot be working in isolation,” said Kirloskar, elaborating on the recent formation of the Global Innovation and Technology Alliance (GITA), which manifested as a PPP-model-based, nonprofit company jointly incorporated by the Technology Development Board (TDB) of the Department of Science & Technology (DST) of the Government of India and the Confederation of Indian Industry.
The Government of India has declared 2010-2020 as the decade of innovation, and the upcoming launch of the India Inclusive Innovation Fund seeks to catalyze the creation of an entrepreneurial ecosystem, targeted at innovative solutions for the bottom of the pyramid.
In this context, Chandrajit Banerjee, the Director General of CII, emphasized that US-India collaboration presents a huge opportunity. “A lot remains to be done in India on the innovation front, and we believe that the power of collaboration between India and the US – two countries with a diverse, democratic and creative people – would yield tremendous results. We are delighted to hold the India Innovation Summit for the first time ever in Chicago, and hope to see many fruitful partnerships emerging from this interaction,” he said.
On enabling innovation in education, Naushad Forbes, who is the Chairman of the CII National Committee on Higher Education and the Director of Forbes Marshall, highlighted two major areas of engagement: building capacity in administrative leadership in higher education institutions and connecting Indian companies with leading US universities. “As Indian companies invest more in research and development, there is a heightened need to connect them to leading research institutions and universities,” he said.
Madhav Lal, the Secretary of the Indian Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), encouraged the leveraging of collaborations to scale up innovations, and the growing role of technologies to enable this cross-sector engagement.
“I would like to see more collaborative networks between the governments, industry, academia and institutions, cutting across country borders,” he said. The MSME Ministry was one of the agencies that also had an exhibit booth at the Summit, which had on display their various initiatives that facilitate innovation among smaller companies.
The Summit, organized in partnership with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs (CCGA), the US-India Business Council (USIBC), the PanIIT Alumni Association and TiE Midwest, brought together creative minds, experts and entrepreneurs, financing institutions and economic development officials. Other agencies that participated in the exhibition included the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF), the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC).