How does an ambitious country become an innovation nation? In capitals across the globe, including New Delhi, that is a question preoccupying leaders seeking to promote innovation.
The answer is, of course, for boosting innovation no one size fits all, which is as complex and varied as the world’s national contexts and cultures.
The first step to find a customised answer, however, is understanding the general outlines of a successful innovation ecosystem. That is why the United Nations agency, the World Intellectual Property Organization, has developed the Global Innovation Index (GII) together with top business universities: France’s INSEAD and Cornell University, US. The Confederation of Indian Industry has been a long-standing GII Knowledge Partner.
The GII measures the innovative capacity and outputs of 129 economies, using 80 indicators ranging from standard measurements such as research and development investments and patent and trademark filings, to mobile-phone app creation and high-tech net exports.
This year, India is hosting the launch of the 2019 edition of the GII.
India has consistently worked on developing its intellectual property system to provide an enabling environment for innovation to flourish at all levels, including grassroots and frugal innovation. Its engagement with WIPO reflects its strong commitment to multilateral cooperation in this field.
India is also currently engaged in opening WIPO-supported Technology and Innovation Support Centers (TISCs) in the country, which will help local innovators and creators research and market their products.
A range of government policies and programmes, including the “Make in India”, “Start-up India”, “Innovate India” and “Digital India” initiatives, have fuelled this innovation drive.
In 2016, India created a high-level Task Force on Innovation to improve its innovation system based on the GII metrics. In collaboration with WIPO, the first India Innovation Index — focusing on ranking Indian States — was released in 2018.
Looking overseas, Indian innovators have increasingly turned to WIPO’s International Patent System to lodge international patent applications, with usage up by 27 per cent in 2018.
According to the GII, India is the most innovative country in Central and Southern Asia since 2011 and has consistently outperformed on innovation relative to its GDP per capita for nine years in a row, a record only matched by two other countries.
On the quality of innovation — including the quality of scientific publications, the quality of universities and patent-related filings — India ranks as the 2nd middle-income economy world-wide.
India is consistently among the top in the world in innovation drivers such ICT services exports, graduates in science and engineering, the quality of universities and scientific publications, economy-wide investments and also creative goods exports.
India also features in the GII ranking on the world’s top science and technology clusters, with Bengaluru, Mumbai and New Delhi included among the global top 100 clusters. Overall, India’s rank has improved from 81st in 2015 to 57th in 2018.
Over the years, India has established strong fundamentals and creative innovation policies. The unveiling of the GII 2019 in New Delhi, will help India’s advances in innovation to continue.
The writer is Director General, World Intellectual Property Organization