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The challenges that innovation policymakers in India have told us they are facing today.

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Scale and complexity of the country

Innovation policymakers described a system that is complex and diverse. There are many differences in investment, employment, poverty, healthcare, and education across a country that is the seventh largest economy in the world and has the second largest population.

Innovation policy that isn’t inclusive enough

They think it’s a system too heavily concentrated in just six states and nine sectors (top five: pharmaceuticals, automotive, IT, defence, and agriculture); stressing that this needs to be more inclusive in terms of who participates in innovation and where it occurs.

Risk averse culture

They don’t feel they can take risks in their work. This risk averse culture restricts funding mechanisms, slows decision making, and reduces investment in new ideas. A fear of failure has emerged from punishment by the system which has stifled creativity and risk-taking in research.

“Failure is punished within the system, but how can there be innovation without failure?”

Not making the most of technology

Innovation policymakers think adoption of new technology is slow and the benefits of digital transformation are not being harnessed. They describe an understanding of technology and its implications system-wide that is quite low, with a systemic resistance to change.

Lack of funding for social innovation

They highlighted that funding for startups is too concentrated on the IT sector because of obvious financial gains. Other sectors where there are pressing societal needs such as education and agriculture are underrepresented.

There is a gap between policy goals and implementation

They think that the gap between goals and implementation comes from a lack of human resources to implement innovation policy agendas. As a result, departmental priorities are to some extent tied to individuals instead of efforts to build long-term institutional capacity.

“There is no umbrella organisation for innovation in India. That is why we are focusing on ecosystem creation.”

Limited exposure to specialised training by staff

Innovation policymakers think continuous learning needs to be prioritised. Government staff – especially in the innovation and technology space – have limited exposure and motivation to seek specialised training. There isn’t yet a culture devoted to lifelong learning; one of the challenges is how to change this mindset.

“Support staff in the system do not have all necessary capabilities needed for implementation, especially in the innovation and technology space.”

Lack of collaboration and coordination between key organisations

They described a disjointed system. A lack of coordination and mechanisms to share across departments results in duplication of public programmes. It also means a disconnect between key players: scientists and administrators; policymakers and industry; industry and researchers.

A lot of good research does not translate into policy or commercialisation. A poor knowledge network exists as a result, with little institutional memory. Successes and failures are not shared, including the models for how to successfully scale up innovation

Authors

Juan Casasbuenas

Juan Casasbuenas

Juan Casasbuenas

Curriculum and Content Manager

Juan is a Curriculum and Content Manager supporting the Digital Frontrunners and Global Innovation Policy Accelerator programmes.

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Nathan Kably

Nathan Kably

Nathan Kably

Assistant Programme Manager, International Innovation

Nathan is Assistant Programme Manager for the Global Innovation Policy Accelerator

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Anna Schlimm

Anna Schlimm

Anna Schlimm

Learning Experience Designer, Global Innovation Policy Accelerator

Anna is a Learning Experience Designer for the Global Innovation Policy Accelerator.

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Paulina Gonzalez-Ortega

Paulina Gonzalez-Ortega

Paulina Gonzalez-Ortega

Design Lead, International Innovation

Paulina is the Design Lead for the Global Innovation Policy Accelerator, a 14 country collaborative development programme for senior innovation policymakers.

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Florence Engasser

Florence Engasser

Florence Engasser

Senior Researcher, International Innovation

Florence is a senior researcher within Nesta’s International Innovation team, which examines global trends and practices in innovation, with an emphasis on emerging economies.

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