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Cover Story
 
INTERVIEW
“Regulatory processes are complex & non-transparent”
Dr. Gopichand Katragadda, Managing Director, GE India Technology Center talks to B&E about how India can build a world class ecosystem for itself
Issue Date - 30/05/2012
 
B&E: What is your view on the ecosystem in India with respect to the R&D outcomes that GE seeks?
Gopichand Katragadda (GK): A research ecosystem was one of the critical considerations for GE to set up the John F. Welch Technology Center in Bangalore. A good intellectual property culture and law, the presence of several successful R&D establishments, and a good pipeline of talent are amongst the things working for India.

B&E: How does GE perceive R&D ecosystems from a strategic perspective, and what initiatives are you taking to from your end?
GK: GE has contributed to the Indian innovation ecosystem in multiple ways – interacting with academia through funded projects; funding students research through GE fund scholarships; awarding best Ph.D thesis with an environmental impact; funding innovative student run programs such as fuel-efficient cars; conducting and participating in thought leadership symposiums with topics in innovation and intellectual property; participation in policy development and advocacy. Our team members have written extensively, in books and journals, on innovation in the context of India. Over the past three years, the team has also focused on product delivery to the India market with specific focus on energy, healthcare & locomotives.

B&E: What sort of efforts and stakeholder collaborations are required to bring R&D in India at par with global standards?
GK: Focussing on a few areas might actually make this a century of Indian innovation.
There needs to be greater collaboration between industries & universities. Today, there is enormous government support for research at some universities. However, it is now time for the government to mandate university-industry collaborations as a criteria to access some of these funds and then use strategic intellectual property as a metric of success on these projects. A good model to look at in this context is the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC). It was originally setup in 1981 in response to the US steadily losing integrated circuit market share to Japan. SRC’s charter was to provide a competitive edge to its member companies by sponsoring cutting edge university research. Over the past 24 years, SRC has channeled $854 million in cutting-edge semi-conductor research. Today, through the efforts of SRC & others, the market trend in the semiconductor industry is now in favour of the US.
For the most part, IP is understood and respected in India. The laws are strong. Also, there is an effort to remain current (the last major amendment to the Patent Act being as recent as 2005). And when a judgment is delivered – it is sound. The issue in India is the ability of the infrastructure to handle the volume of IP requirements that is increasing exponentially. The average pendency for the grant of a patent application in India is more than five years. This is not acceptable in a world of rapid innovation.
Regulations are essential to ensure the larger interests of nation building are balanced. However there is a significant improvement required in the transparency in operation of regulatory bodies. A single window clearance facility for key regulatory approvals is much required.

 

Virat Bahri           

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