“To Create In India, Collaboration With Academia Is A Must”

Manish Kothari, SVP of Software Development and Head of Operations, India, Silicon Labs

Manish Kothari, SVP of Software Development and Head of Operations, India, Silicon Labs, in an interaction with Electronics For You, shed light on the importance of collaborations with Academia. He also shared why products and solutions developed in India are perfect for the world.

“In short, if you’re serious about the Indian market, engaging with universities and co-creating solutions with them is essential,” he highlighted.

Here are some more excerpts from the interaction

Question: Is it difficult donning two hats – one for software development and the other for business development?

Answer: I currently have two roles. One involves leading the global software development team for Silicon Labs, while the other is as the head of Silicon Labs in India. My primary focus is on growing Silicon Labs as a brand in India. I collaborate with business partners but don’t directly engage in business development.

Within the organisation, I also oversee partnerships with universities to advance thought leadership. The role is challenging, but I believe I effectively collaborate with the business, always keeping my focus on technology.

Question: You mentioned partnerships with Universities! How vital is Silicon Labs’ relationship with academia?

Answer: It’s incredibly important. When developing products and solutions for India, we’re essentially building them for the global market. Developing technology in India presents unique challenges that can’t be tackled alone. Indian universities play a vital role in this process, showing that these products can be adapted for global markets.

Partnering with Indian universities, beyond just the IITs, is crucial. For instance, Silicon Labs collaborates with Nirma University for embedded software development. The enthusiasm of students and faculty at these universities is infectious. In short, if you’re serious about the Indian market, engaging with universities and co-creating solutions with them is essential.

Question: Would it be fair to call India the “Innovation Factory” of the world?

Answer: We’re at a tipping point. Developing products for the developing world, which is a massive market, makes sense. While the Western world has a large GDP, the developing world is rapidly expanding.

India, for example, is a significant consumer market, making it profitable to build companies here. Many leaders agree that if you want to create products for the developing world, India is the place to do it. What’s even more exciting is that you can also take these products to the Western world.

Question: Does this also hold for silicon design?

Answer: India has long been a centre for R&D. What’s changing now is that people in India are consuming silicon, prompting the government to push for local manufacturing. We now have a complete ecosystem of design, manufacturing, and consumption, driving a cycle of innovation. Understanding consumer needs, designing solutions, manufacturing, and selling them are all part of this cycle.
This cycle has been the driving force behind innovation in the US for a long time. While manufacturing in India may not be as strong, it’s improving. This piece in the ecosystem speeds up the cycle of innovation and learning, creating a flywheel effect.

Question: Silicon Labs is a fabless company. Would you be open to setting up a fab here?

Answer: Yes, we are a fabless company that partners with manufacturers worldwide. We also have some prototype fabrication for engineering needs. It’s possible that in five to ten years, our products could be assembled, tested, produced, or packaged in India.

While we’ll remain fabless, we’ll remain open to partnering with foundries and fabs globally, leveraging their presence as they establish themselves in India.

Question: Speaking of collaborations, will they increase from here?

Answer: Silicon Labs boasts the broadest portfolio of wireless solutions and products. Our collaboration with Amazon, for example, extends beyond other markets. We’re excited about these collaborations, for instance Amazon Sidewalk, as they offer alternatives to cellular-based solutions, extending wireless connectivity beyond homes.

Collaborations help us cover a wide range of wireless solutions. We’ll continue partnering with anyone with innovative ideas in the wireless domain. Collaboration is the fastest way to develop and bring diverse solutions to market.

Question: Where do smaller players fit in the picture? Should they feel threatened or empowered?

Answer: We’re creating a platform to simplify edge solutions development for anyone. This empowers startups to create solutions with ease, focusing on their applications and solutions while we handle wireless complexities.

Question: Is access to tools possible without your hardware and software?

Answer: Our tools integrate with our hardware and software. While they can work without them, the experience won’t be the same. The tools depend on our hardware.

Question: Is the automotive sector a focus?

Answer: We don’t directly operate in the automotive sector, but our partners use many of our solutions in that segment. The trend is moving toward more wireless connections in automobiles, with increased connectivity within vehicles.

In the future, wires inside cars will decrease, and we may enter the automotive market directly. Currently, our partners are using our products to create solutions for that market.

Question: Where do you see India headed?

Answer: From a business perspective, India has emerged as the largest market for smart metering. Companies interested in the smart meter business must consider India as their primary market.

This is just the beginning, and more exciting segments like smart home, smart retail, industrial IoT, and intelligent health are on the horizon.



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