By Ramesh Ramakrishnan on 28 June 2012
Exploring the meaning of innovation, Ramesh Ramakrishnan, Group Manager, Marketing at KPIT Cummins takes a look at where India ranks on the Global Innovation Index.
So, what does it take to be an innovator?
Is it just about thinking outside-the-box or as simple as taking an unconventional problem-solving route?
It’s important to understand that innovation differs from invention. Invention is about creating a new concept, while innovation refers to the development of a smarter method for approaching that concept. Innovation is different to improvement too, seeing that innovation means going about things in a brand new way, not just making a situation better.
With that covered, let’s get back to the original question. What drives us to innovate?
I believe we’re all born innovators. Each one of us, at some time or other, has innovated. It could be something as small as finding a better way of knotting our shoelaces back in childhood, or coordinating a college schedule so that a group of classmates could make it to a weekly movie. True, we haven’t all innovated Velcro fasteners instead of laces for shoes, or experienced a day like Ferris from ‘84s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but that power of innovation is ever present and unmistakable.
Why do we need to innovate, you ask? The fact is that innovations, and not inventions, pave the way forward. Enhancements to vehicle safety materials, changes in illumination technologies - from the incandescent light bulb to LEDs - combining the power of telephony with data access in the palm of one’s hand, all these serve as examples of how innovation is changing the way we think, operate, and live. In the same way, organizations too need to innovate. Without fresh ideas they run the risk of being left behind. Whether it’s newer technologies or even support for clever ‘green’ initiatives, it’s all testimony to the spirit of innovation.
The Global Innovation Index is one of many research studies that try to build a ranking of innovative countries. For this, the study measures both innovation inputs and outputs - inputs include government and fiscal policy, education policy, and the general innovation environment, while outputs include patents, technology transfers, business performance, business migration, and economic growth. According to the last index, which was published in March 2009, from a list of the twenty largest countries (as measured by GDP), India ranks at number 15. Countries such as South Korea, the United States, Japan, Sweden, and the Netherlands top the list. We are followed by Russia, Mexico, Turkey, Indonesia, and Brazil.
Why do we rank so low on that Global Innovation Index? It’s possible that, as a nation, we are yet to realize the true potential of innovation. Consider a couple of examples. Recognizing the importance of research and development as well as innovation, Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research provides funding for research projects and institutions, regulates nuclear energy, and sets general educational policy. Similarly, Russia’s Medvedev Programme aims at modernizing that country’s economy and society, decreasing its dependency on oil and gas revenues.
Policymakers the world over are working to develop environments that will foster innovation and its resulting positive benefits.
Where do you think we have fared in this space?
The questions I leave you with are very simple, yet worth some serious thought -
All it takes is the right environment, nurturing facilities, and the belief that each one of us has the potential to be a world-class innovator.
What do you think?
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