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Wednesday, 17 August 2016 04:53
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India jumps 15 places in Cornell's innovation index


Given India’s capabilities in the R&D/innovation space, it has always been a surprise as to why this got dwarfed by its low rank in the overall ease of doing business (EoDB) rank—after all, if global biggies are coming to tap a certain potential, the overall EoDB rank is less important. It is this capability that has ensured India has the world’s third-largest number of startups and eight of the world’s 140 billion-dollar firms—with its $175 million funding from investors like Tiger Global, Tencent and Foxconn taking Hike Ltd’s valuation to $1.4 billion, India’s own WhatsApp joins this proud list. While investors pumped in $1.7 billion in tech startups in the first six months of this year, they put in $5.8 billion in 2015. Established firms also ramped up their India presence—while GE’s 4,500-strong R&D centre in Bangalore’s work is well-known, as is the strength of IBM and Accenture’s India offices, both Apple and Google have announced impressive India plans. Google already has 1,500 people in India and plans to train 2 million Android developers over the next three years. Add to this the innovations embedded in Aadhaar or by the National Payments Corporation of India in the mobile banking space and the Aadhaar-stack of innovation that Nandan Nilekani talks of, and India is on the cusp of a banking revolution which Credit Suisse estimates has created a $600 billion market-capitalisation opportunity.

Which is why, it is so heartening to see India jump 15 notches over last year, to 66th position in Cornell University’s Global Innovation Index (GII)—indeed, India is labeled an ‘innovation achiever’, an economy that has performed at least 10% higher than its peers based on the level of GDP. While the government is trying to cement India’s presence in the high-tech arena with flagship programmes like Digital India and Smart Cities, it is as important to appreciate the problem areas as it is to laud the ones where India scores. Education-spend has gone up from 3.2% of GDP in 2014 to 3.8% in 2016, but that is quite low since India’s rank improved from 109th out of 143 countries to just 83rd out of 128. The number of researchers has actually gone down from 159.9 per million population in 2015 to 156.6, which is why India’s rank has fallen. What has helped India improve its standing, however, is Cornell’s recognition of factors that are making the Googles and Apples want to do R&D/tech work here. For the first time, the ranking includes the average R&D-spend by the top 3 global R&D firms—at $433.9 million, that takes India to 20th in the world compared to $2,094.5million for China at 9th rank. Science and engineering graduates is also a new inclusion—in the sense there was no data for India earlier—and India is ranked 8th here but the absence of data for various countries like China has probably boosted this artificially. India ranks 72nd on trademarks registered by locals versus China’s 8th rank, 54th in patents versus 1st for China and 72nd in industrial design versus 1st for China. India has done well, but to sustain this will require a lot more work in fixing the country’s education sector.



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