It was more than a question. It was a challenge as I Vijaya Kumar (CTO, Wipro Ltd.) likes to put it. He maintains that while India often fails to innovate, Indians do, and it comes from the power of ecosystems. Due to the novelty and visibility factors of products, their innovation is easy to appreciate, while that's not the case with services, making it more obscure. He set the context of the panel discussion around the Innovation Clusters and how to improve the Ecosystem.
The first speaker was Manoj Kumar Mandelia (Founder, Canopus India), a student from IIT Kharagpur. Started by five students from the campus, Canopus focuses on Waste Water Treatment for SME industry and household. Leveraging its patent pending LOCUS technology, the approach uses microbial fuel cells and not just treats water but also generate electricity in the process. Realizing the dearth of treatment plans in India, the team geared up to designing those as well and are now scaling up. Manoj concluded his talk very nicely by depicting the way a great idea loses its advantage from mind-to-market and how often our academic system is responsible for our risk averse behavior.
The next was Paul Basil (CEO, Villgro Innovations Foundation), who presented a very strong case about the big business opportunity existing in villages of India. He stated that there are 600 million Indians dwelling in about 600,000 villages and there's a huge room for creating social enterprises out of these. Through a very engaging presentation, studded with images of ingenuous creations from across India, Paul very effectively brought home the point that a little bit of investment in rural areas can yield rich results. Some of Villgro's investments include: MyIdea Program for students, Seed Funding, Talent Mentoring Networks, InnoHub, Unconvention (innovation awards), Innovation Fellowship Programs, and Teaching Entrepreneurship at schools, among others. A very emphatic talk.
Next came Preetha Reddy (MD, Apollo Hospitals) who gave a very interesting perspective on innovation in healthcare, especially in India. The 4 Ps of health care being: Predictive, Preventive, Personalized, and Participatory. While there are access issues in India, both in terms of physical and financial, India leads the world in low cost, high quality healthcare services. For instance Yeshasvani Healthcare Insurance Scheme where rural people deposit Re 1 covering their surgery cost, and Apollo Reach are ways of bridging the gap. She also hinted at the US learning from India in terms of cutting waste and adopting process innovations in healthcare.
Talking of Innovation in India and missing out Reva, doesn't happen often. It was Chetan Maini (CTO, Reva Car Company), talking about the need to innovate and his vision for EV in India. Stating the ambition of Reva to be earth's favorite Electric Vehicle Mobility Solution company, he depicted highly innovative and contemporary approaches in the making. With 40% of workforce involved in R&D, the key drivers of innovation at Reva are- Strong IP Committee, Rich Consumer Insight, Thinking and Doing Differently, and Value Innovation coupled with High Tech. Chetan opined that often not having a benchmark helps innovation. Talking of the two new products- NXR and NGX-2, Chetan depicted novel additions such as solar roof, advanced telematics, intelligent energy management and low carbon footprint as key. He also illustrated the innovative selling and distributing approaches adopted in London while leveraging online media and teenagers. Chetan summarized it well when he said that in India there exist pockets of excellence, which now need to come together.
Last of the talks came from Arvin Baalu (Head of Engg- Harman India), where he mentioned about the work Harman India is doing to support new product launch, globally. That's like moving up the value chain.
In all a very well moderated session after which the audience broke for tea.