Boosting Indian R&D and patent filing (The Economic Times)

The figures reveal that nearly eight out of 10 of all patent applications filed in India over the last 13 years were made by researchers abroad. We clearly need to policy-induce innovation here, and Indian corporates must step up patenting and translational research. True, the share of Indian patenting activity has risen steadily and, as per the latest data, is now 30% of the filings. Yet, our innovation ecosystem needs much revamping. Of course, we must raise total R&D expenditure. But it is also important to rid industry of easy pickings by way of steep import protection, inflated project costs and lax regulation, to force it to make money from doing good, globally competitive business. That would compel industry to value R&D.

Research must improve at our 870-odd universities, so that pure research becomes very much a part and parcel of applied research. And the latter then can be gainfully incorporated into translational and industrial research for new products and services. India is now a global platform for research and development (R&D). Multinational corporations (MNCs) have set up over 1,165 R&D centres here. A recent Capgemini study finds that Bengaluru has displaced Tokyo as the most preferred R&D destination for MNCs, even as the local research activity is rapidly moving away from mere cost advantage to value arbitrage when it comes to cutting-edge technologies across myriad domains.

Policy must foster openness and reduce tariff barriers in a time-bound manner. The recent rationalisation of tax treatment of R&D expenditure in the budget is a move in the right direction; but India ranks poorly in the global rankings when it comes to ease of starting a business, resolving insolvency, paying taxes, pupil-teacher ratio at the secondary level, environmental performance or even access to information and communication technology. The relevant parameters for nations that rank high on R&D have been far better, for years. Hence the need for forward-looking economic and technology policies to channel funds into patenting activity and R&D. A miracle could follow.

Courtesy - The Economic Times.



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