Incremental Innovative Processes

Keynote speech by Dr. V Prakash, distinguished scientist of CSIR, India and Honourable Director at JSS MVP, Mysore, on Incremental Innovative Processes, at the Round Table on Karnataka’s Competitiveness.

“Today a tremendous amount of productivity can go into the translational innovation. It is a wrong to think that every innovation should pay; in fact it should build into one another.”

“IITs are not the Indian Institute of Technologies but Incremental Innovation Technologies, which is very important.”

Many a times I have found the quotation, ‘Necessity, the mother of invention’, and in that category, innovating the innovation, for instance, by leveraging ITBT to Food Technology (FT). So, food is something that can make us all come together.  Almost 80% of Karnataka gets its income from agriculture.  If we look at Nutraceutical, we would find it to be about $256 billion industry globally. 14% of Karnataka’s raw material go out for value addition to the rest of the world and comes back to India in a very different form. So innovation is needed, to convert that raw material into a very different product.  The low-income countries are mostly worried about population, diabetes etc. but I look at it from a different perspective i.e. a human resource rich world. Therefore, let us not go by the scare of low-income countries having high number of people but we need to capitalize the human resource richness and use that as our capital. There is a lot of innovation that happens when the budget is announced every year in the month of February. Where is that real innovation that takes us our GDP into a projection, which is beyond ones thinking? In the field of agriculture everything from practices, agricultural, transport, etc. are well set but if we do have a critical mass of innovation in the start-up sector then it would be pulled down. A start-up has many obstacles and these have to be reduced to minimum. Today a tremendous amount of productivity can go into the translational innovation. It is a wrong to think that every innovation should pay; in fact it should build into one another.

IITs are not the Indian Institute of Technologies but Incremental Innovation Technologies, which is very important. We need to realize that Incremental Innovative Technologies revisiting the failed technology should be nurtured, to learn from it. When I revisited the old technologies at my institute it was the Delta Innovative Technologies that paid us the dividend with a Rs 14 crore royalty. This was not heard of in government institutions. Therefore, it is the Delta Innovative System that needs to capitalize and has to be a totally business oriented. Today a large number of companies thrive on R&D as compared to about 15 years back.  R&D is something that India has capitalized. Everyone looks at innovation from a different perspective and we need to appreciate how unrecognized and undocumented innovation goes around. India requires multi models for innovation. There is innovation in various sectors of infrastructure, food, health etc.

For example, the government had a plan of creating Ayur Valley near Mysore and was supposed to invest Rs 500 crores for almost 20 years. But the plants have grown and died and there is no valley.  The valley is vanishing.  Similarly in Milk industry we are galloping from a 20 million tons this year to 200 million tons of milk the next year. We need to take out the water from milk so as to produce dry milk. We really need to innovate so that milk does not get wasted. Sometimes innovation climbs up so fast that we are not going to be able to catch up. Therefore, there is a caution in innovation that you need to back-up with infrastructure and the skill. Another example is of cancer drug called Curcumin, which vanished from the market. Then a young Chinese guy looked at Curcumin; combined the Curcumin with Thalidomide; made it safe, and now the drug is available in the market. These kinds of innovation are commendable where tradition and innovation have gone together to bring out a new business in Cancer therapy. The food industry in India was producing less than about 1000 tons of rice bran oil. Today, it is going into value addition with 300 innovations built into it as edible oil with 1 million ton.  Next is the complexity of Wheat Mill. The customers wanted to have the traditional milled wheat as their grandmothers used to have. So, by innovation we have a chakki inside a wheat mill. Out of 820 mills, 340 mills have chakki—very silent innovation. It’s amazing innovation and that has made the market a very different one, leading to five times more sales in wheat.

If innovation matters to us, we shall matter more to innovation infrastructure.  I want to underline the word ‘You innovate and you have no infrastructure; you are innovating something in a desert and just shouting’; and the entire chain of EFT, focused on food technology, using IT and BT strategically is never done for creating a sustainable micro and macroeconomic competitive environment in Karnataka, which is vital.  I think the productivity linkages for innovation and IPR is well recognized in India today. We need to look at a map of 20:20 sector wise and identify sub leaders to dry.  One single government, one single department, trying to do everything on innovation, is a disaster and a failure. We should leave it to people who are experts in those sectors and allow them to function.  If innovation has no love and affection for the profession, it just will remain as a business. Entire competitiveness comes through healthy competition and a competition that can be sustainable. We should realize there is a Make in India, only youngsters can do.  But I think it’s a mixture of Make in India, Make for India with experienced matching with the youngsters.

With the new Neutraceutical that is coming out and the Ayurceutical that we have created in India, there are so many molecules. Many of us want to look younger but innovation stops somewhere and we need to realize that it is the platform of experience that drives the innovation. The quality of life with all these innovations, with inclusiveness is something to marvel; we will certainly take the agenda not only to rural but also semi-urban, because that’s where the market is.  I strongly feel we have a duty to do, we have a platform that is already created and we need to do it and food is something that is not to be neglected, which Karnataka has wonderfully neglected for so many years.

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