09 Mar 2020 18:46 IST

Economy needs a shot in the arm from innovation

Companies and colleges should establish incubators on-campus to provide mentoring for start-ups

In the age of digital disruption, companies are grappling with uncertainty and change. The only way for them to stay relevant is to embrace innovation and foster collaboration with partners. The nature of businesses is evolving and every organisation has to go through a transformative journey to up its innovation quotient.

In this disruptive world, the environment is also changing at a rapid pace where alternative futuristic technologies are witnessing a boom and economies are constantly evolving. This trend directly affects both start-ups and established corporates. While start-ups are the products of innovation, large corporates are driving growth through continuous innovative thinking. Globally, the agility displayed by start-ups to solve consumer challenges across industries is reshaping economic and social growth. Hence, as a developing nation, the aspiration must be to reinvent India as an innovative nation, so we can leapfrog to the next phase of growth.

In the recent decade, India has emerged as an innovation hub, having incubated many interesting technology-based start-ups such as Zomato, Oyo Rooms and Snapdeal. The country jumped five places in the Global Innovation Index 2019 and is currently ranked 52. This spurt puts India on a global map, as it is the biggest leap any major economy has taken. India has a unique market and an entrepreneurial ecosystem that needs to be leveraged for optimal innovation and to inculcate the idea of creativity at every step.

A conducive environment

But start-ups need a conducive environment to flourish and grow. One of the key challenges is of diversity and scaling. In order to overcome this, and initiate a drive to bring change, academicians and universities must take proactive measures to inculcate the habit of innovative thinking among students and executives by providing different platforms for them to ideate and build successful business plans for a business idea or a start-up. The next step is to create a facilitating mentoring environment that will enable the innovators to practically execute their plans.

Companies and educational institutions need to establish innovation labs or incubators on-campus to provide the necessary mentoring for start-ups. These labs will help germinate ideas for the future, understand different aspects of business innovation and, in turn, help to work towards a robust economy. Research labs and incubators also help students, researchers and innovators to come up with practical, real-life prototypes that aim to resolve everyday socio-economic problems with creative solutions, train students to apply frugal innovative techniques and guide them in building a sustainable approach by methods of design thinking.

Such initiatives will help establish and promote the appropriate innovation ecosystem at various levels — schools, colleges and research institutes — and encourage participants to create a whole new variety of innovators across age groups. This will help future leaders and entrepreneurs equip themselves with the right skills required to expand in the start-up atmosphere, conceptualise effective business models, and learn how to scale.

Fulfilling dreams

Such an environment is also equally important for large corporates to encourage ‘intrapreneurs’, who challenge existing processes and the status-quo. Intrapreneurs help to leverage corporate resources better as they are an integral part of the system helping to get maturity of respective business as well. Innovation and creativity are not only helpful to entrepreneurs, even school-children have become owners of successful start-ups. With the right mentorship of parents, teachers and skilled professionals, more students could establish themselves as inventors.

B-schools need to foster more curiosity, innovativeness and creativity. This approach will help nurture problem-solving abilities, adaptive learning and design thinking right from a young age. This way, there will be a generation that believes in challenging the status-quo and in coming up with solutions to social problems that will catapult India’s position in the world economic order. The collaboration between academia, industry and government will also help the nation’s young people to realise their start-up dreams and give substance to every idea.