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We estimate that there are just over 400 ‘core’, senior innovation policymakers working at a national level in India.[1] The staff structure across departments varies, depending on whether they are focused on scientific innovation or not. Those that are, tend to be career scientists or hold technical degrees. Otherwise they are usually career bureaucrats.

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These policymakers are riding a wave of momentum. There is considerable awareness among policymakers in general about the increasingly important role of innovation across all sectors in government. There is also a growing recognition that the country needs to look beyond the traditional ways of managing and implementing policy, in order to effectively support innovation programmes and build sustainable ecosystems.

The role of these individuals is pivotal. They do not feel that the current environment sufficiently fosters innovation within government - even though the areas in which they work are ostensibly focused on the development of innovation within the Indian economy and society. At the moment they feel too much hinges on the level of motivation of individual bureaucrats. In a few cases, innovation is driven by a motivated political leader or unit.

For example, in Maharashtra, policymakers are able to act as ‘entrepreneurs’, working outside the confines of hierarchical government structures, yet retain their influence and standing. Indeed, as we outline further on, innovation in India is too reliant on these individuals driving things forward.

[1] Estimate of the number of policymakers at four key levels of seniority in the core innovation departments at central level. State-level policymakers are not counted here; we estimate e.g. that there are approximately 118 policymakers working at the level of the Maharashtra state. These numbers are drawn from both publicly-available data and interviews with experts. These numbers are intended to give an insight into the potential size - the order of magnitude - of the innovation policymaker community, and should be regarded as estimates.

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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