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It’s 2024. As a society, how can we encourage India’s Innovation?

By KNS Rao

Former Project Director, IRNSS, ISRO


Innovation is the life-blood of “Atmanirbhar” (self-reliance) Bharat. The link between these two is undeniable. Innovations like steam engines and electricity have propelled societies from agrarian to industrial age. Our parents and grandparents have borne witness to this transformative power of ingenuity.

While our generation has benefitted from their hard work, it’s now our responsibility to do the same for the generations to come. As 2024 comes blazing through, here’s what we think we can do to support our young innovators:

Making a case for India:

History has given us sweet and bitter memories. On one hand, we missed the industrial revolution and semiconductor revolution. On the other hand, some of our recent innovations brought the spotlight back on India. Some of them being:

● UPI: The revolutionary payments platform empowers remote villages with real-time digital transactions. It’s little surprise that advanced nations are lining up to adopt this Indian innovation.

● Chandrayaan-3: This lunar mission exemplified Indian innovation, landing a spacecraft on the moon with remarkable efficiency. Our space scientists and engineers continue to inspire generations.

● Telemedicine: Bridging the healthcare gap in remote areas, this technology showcases the potential of innovation to serve societal needs.

From a lowly 81st in 2015, India catapulted to 40th in the Global Innovation Index in 2023. This was not serendipity; it was the grit of a young, internet-savvy generation unafraid to break boundaries. Necessity, they say, mothers invention, and our innovations often spring from frugality, labor shortages, and security needs.

We may have missed the Industrial and Semiconductor Revolutions, but we can’t miss riding the wave on Artificial Intelligence, Digital Transactions, Space, Health, Agriculture, Telecom, Alternative Energy Sources. These are fertile ground for Indian ingenuity to take root and flourish.

How do we Fuel the Innovation Engine – as a society:

1) By supporting our local innovators

For context, India’s innovation landscape has shifted dramatically from what it was before. Previously both the private and public sector depended on borrowed technology as a safe bet and shied away from betting on homegrown solutions.

The issue with borrowed technology is that it makes us eternally dependent on others, there is a constant outflow of money, blackmail and denial due to geopolitical developments. Thanks to globalization and the growing maturity of the Indian industry itself there is more recognition for innovative work.

Nowadays, borrowed technology and aversion to risk are reducing. A lot of companies are taking the first steps to buy technology from smaller firms – but a lot more can be done.

Additionally, there’s a full-fledged ecosystem of funding agencies who fund innovators at different levels of their idea and as a result, a newfound confidence is pulsating through.

2) By encouraging them to fearlessly compete on the global arena

One unexpected way in which the internet is fueling our innovations is by allowing for greater transparency. Today, the younger generation, aware of global advancements, readily absorbs and experiments. They’re quick to try, fail and get back to building till the time they succeed.

They can now benchmark their work with others elsewhere which was largely missing earlier.

While the top tier cities are aware of this, those from tier-2, tier-3 cities need to be spotted more and provided more resources by funding agencies to compete on the global stage.

A note to our governing bodies:

While we support our innovators as a society, we have a few ideas that we’d like to share with our governing bodies at large, to make lives simpler for our innovators:

● Patents: The government must incentivize innovation, fostering awareness across institutions. It should simplify patent filing and provide for protection of intellectual property.

● Research spends: Large academic institutions today are largely confined to teaching. We have very few who are actually engaged in research and innovation. This needs to change.

● Jugaad: Innovation happening in the informal sector in the form of what is known as Jugad should be recognized, and provided funds.

● Relevant Education: Revamping education to encourage out-of-the-box thinking and student projects addressing real-world issues will ensure practical application of ideas. The National Education Policy and FLN initiatives to set up solid fundamentals in early childhood is a step in the right direction.

● Bank Funding: Banks need to adopt easier, friendlier procedures to liberally fund innovation-related work. What is now the mainstay of angel investors and venture capitalists, should be an offering from banks as well.

With such implicit support from society and government, we believe our innovators are primed to launch cutting edge products in fields such as: Space, Pharmaceuticals, Alternate Energy, Transportation, Farm Mechanization, Medical Services, and Defense Equipment. The list is quite long, and that’s news that we can cheer about.

India’s innovation journey has just begun. We’ve climbed mountains, but the summit beckons. By capitalizing on our strengths, nurturing talent, and embracing a culture of ingenuity, India can ride the innovation wave, creating a future where its name resonates proudly on the global stage of science and technology, directly boosting our GDP and improving the lives of millions.

We firmly believe this. At Globetek, we’ve helped over 100+ tribe of entrepreneurs, researchers, environmental conservationists from tier 1 and tier 2 cities realize their ambition. In doing so, we’re proud to share that we’re actively nudging India’s innovation capabilities a little by little, every single day.

If you’re aligned in the same mission as we are, we’re happy to connect and multiply our efforts 🙂

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