Rising Opportunities For R&D in India in the Post COVID -19 Era

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The processes of R&D and Design plays a critical role in assessing how good the final product will be. These combine theory with practicals and help teams make products ready for the global stage. However, the COVID 19 outbreak has once again reminded India and many other countries of their over-dependence on China for R&D and Design operations.
Panelists discussing rising ppportunities For R&D in India in the Post COVID -19 Era

Keeping the same perspective in view, a panel headed by N Kishor Narang, founder, mentor, and principal design Architect, NARNIX TECHNOLABS PRIVATE LIMITED Technolabs Pvt Ltd; discussed the possibilities for India-based R&D and Design teams. The panel discussion was organized by EFY Group during the last day of India’s first online event for the electronics industry – India Technology Week.

Vivek Saxena, senior management advisor and council member, GLG Inc. USA; Arpit Chhabra, CEO & Co-founder, IoTfy; Parag Mehta, CEO and Founder, Evolute Group and Bhartendu Mishra, general manager & sr. director, Sales, Arrow Electronics India Pvt Ltd shared suggestions as speakers.

Questions raised

Que – Is India Prepared to Fill Vacuum Of the world’s over-dependence on China for R&D and Design?
Que – Can our ESDM sector rise to the occasion?
Que – Can India’s R&D and Design teams create products with global value?
Que – Are we ready to restart as an economy in terms of R&D?
Que – Why do we design good when we work for international MNCs but fail when we design for Indian MNCs?
Que – What role can academia play starting now?
Que – Can collaborations with different teams and companies help in improving overall designs?
Que – What can we do to start bootstrapping now?
Que – When can we have global giants like Samsung coming out of India?

What needs to done starting now

1. It is never too late. One can restart at any point in time. Upscaling R&D in India is a big opportunity now.
2. The corporate sector needs to increase investment in R&D. MNCs originating in India should start focussing on R&D and design teams.
3. Startups working in the domains need to be encouraged and appreciated more. Both government and individual companies should play an important role here.
4. We need to take care of the need side and how side by connecting dots between futuristic products and products that are required now.
5. India is known for its jugaad innovations. It is time to make such innovations work on the global level.
6. While it is easy to conceptualise design, it’s equally difficult to take the design to the prototyping stage. Find out ways to quickly prototype so that better designs can come up based on practical usage.
7. An entire ecosystem needs to be created for taking the design to prototype then finally the production phase.
8. More engineers like the legendary Bose need to rise to the occasion and take chances. You need to create more companies and brands like Bose from India.
9. Companies should make fresh graduates feel secure about stepping into R&D. A lot of youngsters don’t step into this arena fearing failure and job losses.
10. Academia has a major role to play in making R&D and Design capabilities reach a global level. We can start by focusing on knowledge creation rather than educational degrees.
11. Vision, ambition, skill, and support needs to be tied together using values. This will encourage the younger generation to be more active in R&D and Design verticals.

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Where should the focus be on

1. R&D and design teams should emphasize more on products designed and manufactured in India. These should be ready for meeting global standards and consumption. In simpler words – products designed in India must meet global standards.
2. While designing a product or technology, recognizing consumer demands is of utmost relevance. Doing the same can help teams understand what global consumers want.
3. In the past few years, the lifecycle of new products has decreased dramatically. Teams need to focus on the long-term usability of products. Consumer spending patterns might decrease if a recession hits the world.
4. Try and build a user experience that lasts. No matter how advanced your product is, if it lacks a good user experience, it will end up on shelves and in research papers. Start a research or design with a simple question – will you buy this product once it starts getting manufactured?
5. Go for localized research for reaching larger scalability. Research that starts with local seed grows into a big tree and reaches other regions in no time.
6. Stop blaming the government for everything. The government will play its role once it sees value addition being created locally.
7. There is a need to set up a semiconductor ecosystem in India as silicon plays a great role in initial as well as final stages.
8. Don’t shy away from collaborating. You might have the software ready, someone else might have the hardware ready. Collaborating can help solve puzzles faster.
9. Don’t be afraid to help and ask for help. An India specific platform where R&D and Designs teams can come together and share experiences is the need of the hour. A great example of this is Github!
10. R&D and design teams need to focus more on young engineers. Allow them to try and fail but keep mentoring them at the same time. Long term investments are needed to make young engineers feel encouraged to carry on R&D and Design.
11. Use platforms like Arduino and Raspberry Pi to ignite and start your hunger for design and R&D only. There is a big world beyond these in the R&D and design domains.
12. Slogans like go ‘Vocal for Local’ sound great. These become greater when implemented practically.

Young engineers in picture

1. You should keep yourselves open to mentoring from industry experts. Ask questions rather than doubting capabilities.
2. Startups do not only mean funding and scaling-up stages. Try to add value for your products keeping long-term in mind.
3. Start believing in local design houses. Work with them to make processes and products better.
4. Do dry runs with local entrepreneurs before reaching big companies. This will help you test your capabilities before you scale up.
5. R&D and design is all about connecting with different stakeholders. You cannot do everything on your own.
6. Even if you are developing a solution based on someone else’s work, make sure to do value addition to it before entering the prototyping stage.
7. Participate more in standardisation. This helps make the products go global.
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