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Our Frugal Future: Lessons from India's Innovation system

This report explores the policies, institutions and industries that are driving research and innovation in India.

This report explores the policies, institutions and industries that are driving research and innovation in India.

Key findings:

  • 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.
  • Frugal innovation, which turns the constraints of limited resources into a competitive advantage, is a distinctive specialism of the Indian system
  • Combined with deepening scientific and technological capabilities, frugal innovation could be an important source of competitive advantage for India, and is an overlooked opportunity for strategic collaboration with the UK.

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.'

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:

  • Bibliometric analysis mapping the distribution and focus of research excellence in India by Evidence, Thomson Reuters.
  • River of Innovation - a report on the future of Higher Education and its impact on research and innovation by IndoGenius.
  • A report on foreign investment in Indian research and development by NISTADS.

Authors

Kirsten Bound and Ian Thornton

Authors

Kirsten Bound

Kirsten Bound

Kirsten Bound

Executive Director of Research, Analysis and Policy

Kirsten is an Executive Director at Nesta and leads Nesta’s Research, Analysis and Policy team.

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