Drawing on the latest data and over 130 interviews with Indian policymakers, entrepreneurs and academics, this report explores the policies, institutions and industries that are driving research and innovation. It measures how India's research strengths are developing, and maps how the geography of Indian research and innovation is changing.
Innovation has raced up the Indian Government's agenda in recent years, and the President has declared the next ten years the 'Decade of Innovation.' Yet at first glance, recent developments in India's innovation ecosystem appear not to have kept pace with its explosive economic growth. India's science budget has grown at 25 per cent a year for the last five years, but expenditure on R&D remains under 1 per cent of GDP. India's record of scientific publications lags that of China, and the gap is widening: over the same period as India's scientific output doubled, China's grew by seven times.
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However, these metrics don't capture all of what is important about Indian innovation. They overlook what this research uncovered as a distinctive specialism of the Indian system, and a timely opportunity for the UK: frugal innovation. Combined with deepening scientific and technological capabilities, this could be an important source of competitive advantage for India, and is an overlooked opportunity for strategic collaboration with the UK.
Methodology and origins of this report
This project was undertaken and funded in partnership between Nesta, the FCO Science and Innovation Network, the Research Councils UK and the UK-India Education and Research Initiative. It draws on secondary literature and the latest quantitative data available, in addition to over 130 in-depth interviews with Indian policymakers, entrepreneurs and academics.
Three additional pieces of research were commissioned by our project partners to feed into the project:
Kirsten Bound and Ian Thornton
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Browse through our list of great frugal innovations coming out of India.
Download the supplementary data for the Our Frugal Future report
The Our Frugal Future report contains a number of maps and data visualisations. Click on the images below to open up the full versions.
Inputs to Indian Innovation:
Hotspots for quality research and innovation: