Research and development (R&D) is of utmost necessity to develop a country’s production potential and also its science and technology sector. It helps a nation to progress and bring about innovation in all sectors. The Government of India has always supported this sector and has invested significantly in setting up universities and technological institutions as well as various research centres.
The government has set up various bodies to promote R&D in the country, such as the National Research Development Corporation (NRDC) and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The NDRC promotes, develops and commercialises the technologies and works under the administrative control of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, Ministry of Science and Technology; while the DRDO is dedicated towards enhancing self-reliance in the country’s defence systems.
The spending on R&D in India is mostly done by the companies in the private sector, although the government is now taking large strides to fund such initiatives in the country. Companies such as Ranbaxy Laboratories, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, Tata Steel, Mahindra & Mahindra and Cadilla are some of the private sector companies which are among the topmost spenders in R&D.
The number of multinational corporation (MNC) R&D centres in India increased at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.4 per cent to 1,031 during the first half of 2013. Out of the Indian cities, Bengaluru has the highest share of the MNC R&D companies followed by Pune and Mumbai. In India, the pharmaceutical sector accounts for the largest share of R&D followed by the automobile sector.
According to forecasts, the gross spending in India on R&D should increase to US$ 44 billion and account for 0.9 per cent of the GDP by the end of 2014, as compared to US$ 42 billion and 0.85 per cent, respectively, in the year 2013.
India is presently ranked 76th among a total of 143 economies, as per the Global Innovation Index (GII).
Some of the major notable investments and developments in the R&D sector are as follows:
Promoting R&D and bringing about the scientific temper will be the priority of the Science and Technology Ministry to make India the world leader in this area, according to Mr Jitendra Singh, Minister of Science and Technology, Government of India.
The Government of India has taken several steps to promote the R&D sector in India. In the recently released Union Budget 2014-15, it established two more Agricultural Research Institutes of excellence in Assam and Jharkhand with an initial sum of Rs 100 crore (US$ 16.33 million). It also plans to set up a national level research and referral institute for higher dental studies and 15 model rural health research centres.
The government is also considering expanding its India Inclusive Innovation Fund corpus and mandate aimed at promoting grassroots level innovations to deliver social and economic returns. The India Inclusive Innovation Fund presently has a corpus of Rs 500 crore (US$ 81.69 million) and invests in sectors such as healthcare, water, energy and agriculture.
Rubber Research Institute of India (RRII) has received a US patent for ready-to-use rubber mixes for the industry. The patent, relating to development of industry standard and application focused rubber, uses techniques that are environment friendly and energy efficient.
Agricultural scientists from three Indian institutes have collaborated with the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (IWGSC) to decode the genetic blueprint of wheat. This initiative was financially supported by the Department of Biotechnology at a total cost of Rs 35 crore (US$ 5.71 million). The wheat breeders will now be able to produce superior wheat varieties at an accelerated pace to meet the demands of a growing world population in the changing environment.
With the government’s support, the R&D sector in India is all set to witness some robust growth in the coming years. According to a study by management consulting firm Zinnov, engineering R&D market in India is estimated to be grow at a CAGR of 14 per cent to reach US$ 42 billion by 2020, while it stood around US$ 14.7 billion in 2012.
India is also set to witness high growth in its agriculture and pharmaceutical sectors with the government investing huge sums for setting up research centres specifically dedicated for R&D in these fields. Also, the Indian IT industry will add to the development of the R&D sector as India makes its way to the top of the world IT market.
Exchange Rate used: INR 1 = US$ 0.0163 as on September 25, 2014
References: Media Reports, Press Information Bureau (PIB), Innovation Council of India, Union Budget 2014-15, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP)