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Saturday, 02 July 2016 05:23
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Make-in-India will take time, this has taken off


Prime minister Narendra Modi’s Make-in-India may be a long way from taking off but there can be little doubt that Research-in-India took off long ago, and is getting stronger by the day. While R&D work done in India by, say, a GE to re-imagine medical equipment to more than halve costs is well-known, a recent study by HfS Research says that of the 190 engineering R&D centres announced globally in Apr-Dec 2015, 57 were located in India and a third were driven by Make-in-India. And, according to Zinnov Consulting, the 1,165 MNC R&D centres in the country—owned by 928 MNCs—employ as many as 323,000 persons. By 2020, Zinnov projects 1,139 MNCs with Indian R&D and over half a million staffers.

The R&D ranges from automobiles to artificial intelligence, communications to computers, medicine to medical equipment, and a lot more and, in many cases, the India operations are the second-largest after the home country—as compared to 10,000 people in its Bay Area headquarters, Google has 1,500 people here already. While the relative abundance and top quality of engineers brought in the Intels and SAPs—10% of SAP’s global patents come from the India centre— what is driving the increased pace of MNC R&D in India is the market + innovation feedback loop. Maruti has been contributing the lion’s share of Suzuki’s profits for years, but after experimenting with Indian designers for a long time, Suzuki now has a full-fledged R&D centre in Rohtak. As Google’s Sundar Pichai said on his maiden visit here, India has already surpassed the US when it comes to the number of internet users and will soon overtake it in terms of the number of Android handset sales. Not surprising then, that Google plans to train 2 million Android developers over the next three years in India and is planning a Hyderabad campus with 13,000 employees. Chinese handset manufacturer Foxconn which has committed to investing $5 billion in manufacturing facilities here is also setting up R&D facilities; LeEco, another handset manufacturer, HfS research on the A-Z of R&D centres tells us, is planning a 1,000-man R&D facility here by the end of the year. While Bosch plans to recruit 3,200 engineers this fiscal for software development, Intel is setting up the Intel India Maker Lab in its Bangalore campus to nurture innovators and start-ups,

Microsoft has a centre of excellence planned in Vizag and Nokia has an Internet of Things centre in Bangalore. In the auto sector, apart from Suzuki, Mercedes Benz plans to add almost 3,000 engineers to its Bangalore-based R&D centre.

None of this should come as a surprise given that, with the addressable market growing so fast, India is increasingly the hotbed of innovation. The work by Isro is in the limelight these days, and both Aadhaar and the National Payments Corporation are doing cutting edge work in their area. Eight of the world’s 140 unicorns—startups worth valued at $1 billion or more—are based out of India, as are the third-largest number of start-ups in the world. Prime minister Modi may not have started the movement but can certainly take pride in helping it grow.



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