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India To Become A Global Innovation Hub

By Balajee Sowrirajan, Managing Director, Samsung Semiconductor R&D (SSIR)

In an interaction with SiliconIndia, Balajee Sowrirajan, Managing Director, Samsung Semiconductor R&D (SSIR) shares his views on India's innovation and research potential

India still ranks low when it comes to innovation and research. What pulls it back even when the government has several initiatives in place?
Today, India is a destination for building R&D centers due to technology talent and growing efforts for ease of doing business. Though earlier, India had been known as a leader in the IT services sector, not for product design and development. In recent years, we have seen a shift in this trend, as innovation in India has received a stronger impetus, from the Government of India as well as the industry at large. Today, the country is home to over 1450+ Global MNCs, contributing and driving the global digital transformation mandates from the R&D centers in India.

However, in comparison, home grown innovation is still not matured and has a long way to go. India's expenditure on R&D continues to be as low as 0.6 percent - 0.7 percent of the GDP, which is much lower than South Korea, Israel and Japan. With more government incentives and active participation from Indian corporates, India can very well leverage the existing talent and resources to become a global innovation hub.

How can the industry and academia work to fix this gap and make India a leading innovation and research centre of the world?
Collaboration between industry and academia is one of the most important imperatives for building a robust technology ecosystem. The industry can infer what the current and future technology trends are going to look like and work with academia to ensure the future talent workforce is well equipped with the necessary skills.

This can be done through multiple ways by setting up incubation centers, workplace exposure through Internships, live projects, corporate interactions, emphasis on skill based education that can provide the necessary hands on training and working with academia to co-create the curriculum suitable for today's evolving industry needs. An engaging partnership will enable a more able young workforce of the country and further strengthen the innovation story in India. In addition, senior professors with deep expertise taking sabbatical and engaging with Indian Semiconductor R&Dcenters on research programs will help gain competitiveness and build broader perspective on innovation.

2021, how is the year going to be for the tech and biz world? What challenges lie ahead for the leaders to deal with?
Technology is going to have a big impact on every aspect of our lives, as we move to the reality of an intelligent world. The emergence of devices that are not only connected but are able to take informed decisions based on data is well underway and this trend will largely be defined by connectivity, sensor, data and AI.

The business world has potentially been changed for ever, new business models are emerging, innovation is happening basis user experiences in the pandemic and newer challenges are emerging for leaders to navigate through. Leaders will mainly have to adapt to pivoting their business to become more agile and adaptable to meet changing customer and employee expectation, leading with empathy and flexibility, and creating a positive and motivating work culture during these uncertain times.

With newer technologies emerging each day, how are companies planning to train their employees and keep their skills top notch?

Even before the current crisis, changing technologies and new ways of working were disrupting jobs and the skills employees need to do them. The pandemic has only reinforced the need to upskill and build depth and breadth of niche skills. Companies are also focusing on emerging trends such as AI, IoT, Robotics, Machine Learning and Blockchain alongside with essential skills like building resilience, improving focus, collaboration, and networking skills.

Being a technology led company, we have always had a strong focus on skilling. Though in person training plans including travel for global programs paused for us, we continued the momentum with virtual trainings across teams and roles. These virtual trainings have been both instructor led and self paced, where employees could prioritize their learning needs. Also in these times, trainings led by our internal leaders and experts around software and hardware competencies made a huge difference in raising the level of domain knowledge. In addition to core technology skills, we emphasized on building emotional intelligence for all and understanding of changing business landscape and people needs for leaders to better drive the organization.

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