Academic institutes should be hotbed for entrepreneurship: Kris

PTI New Delhi | Updated on January 19, 2018 Published on February 14, 2016

Infosys co-founder S Gopalakrishnan. File Photo   -  Business Line

"We need more examples of research being converted into start-ups, into new businesses," Infosys co-founder said.

With only few start-ups emerging from academic research in the country, premier academic institutions need to be geared up with better resources to make them a “hotbed for ideas and entrepreneurship”, Infosys co-founder S Gopalakrishnan said.

The former chief of country’s second largest software services firm said the country also needs to ramp up its R&D spending to 2-3 per cent to ensure that India can sustain its competitive advantage in the field of science and engineering.

“We need more examples of research being converted into start-ups, into new businesses. Today, the start-up phenomenon seems to be separate from the academic research,” he told PTI.

Kris, as Gopalakrishnan is popularly called, added that there are very few examples, where one sees research being converted into start-ups.

These examples are primarily in the area of biotech and advance manufacturing.

He cited the example of institutions like IIT-Madras, Indian Institute of Science and National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bengaluru, where many start-ups have emerged out of the research from the labs in these institutions.

“But we need many more... An ecosystem has to be created around premier academic institutions which are a kind of a hotbed for ideas and entrepreneurship,” he said.

Highlighting the lack of quality manpower, Kris said “our education is primarily targeted towards testing knowledge rather than testing problem solving capabilities and the ability to understand concepts and their application.”

“When it comes to sciences, there are other challenges. Many colleges don’t have a properly-equipped laboratory. You will not have good teachers. So training teachers and increasing the number of teachers is a challenge,” he added.

Kris, who has invested in projects in brain and stem-cell related research, said it is also important that the investment on R&D is increased in the country.

“India spends around 0.8 per cent on R&D. I think it should be increased to 2-3 per cent. There is a role for the government and the industry. Industry must also spend on academic research,” he said.

Another important step would be to focus on big projects and build larger teams.

“In most cases, we find that there is one professor, one or two students who work with him/ her and what happens is that the size of the team is small, so they look at smaller challenges. They don’t think big. But we need some big, mission mode projects,” he said.

Drawing reference from the USD 150 billion Indian IT-BPM sector, Kris said if India does not invest in research now, the country may miss out on the next set of opportunities that new technologies provide.

Published on February 14, 2016
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