Skip to Main Content
Access your saved content
Innovation is the key driver of growth in any economy.
As we have emphasized for the past two years, in the Indian context, the focus on innovation must follow a special path of inclusiveness – involving everyone in the country, not just those who produce and consume at the high end.
From the final edition of our research series on inclusive innovation, we give insights on how "democratizing innovation" can help stakeholders unlock value and help India achieve its goal of inclusive growth. It also presents an action agenda for operationalizing this new paradigm and matrices to measure the success of the same.
It is always important to reiterate that the focus on inclusive innovation is not solely a matter of improving society, although it is that too. Rather, inclusive and democratized innovation is also the way in which businesses can find growth in a country of more than a billion people, many of whom are poised to enter or move up within the middle class.
Innovation is not only a matter of iPads and cool apps, such as Google Street View, useful and popular as they are. It is also about the small jugaads that the common man in India devises to solve his day-to-day problems.
It is about new refrigerators made from mud; chickens that can withstand disease while producing many more eggs than standard poultry; Internet kiosks that connect small farmers in villages to provide access to weather forecasts and pricing information; and much more.
Our research shows that a democratic version of innovation will not only drive the country’s agenda of inclusive growth but also unlock corporate profitability.
In our survey of 1,000 students, 74 percent said they would like to contribute toward innovations that could improve products and services available in the market. Note that this desire is not entirely for personal gain: 43 percent of respondents said that a key motivator for sharing innovations was to help people benefit from their ideas.
We found several stakeholders in the Indian economy making efforts to democratize innovation in recent years, including government bodies, companies, not-for-profit organizations and research institutions. Yet while many of those ventures have succeeded, they largely represent individual and isolated efforts. Our analysis revealed that a coordinated, end-to-end approach would provide corporations, governments and civil society organizations with a unique platform to unlock the imagination of 1.2 billion minds.
Democratizing innovation holds tremendous power for the Indian economy. There are thousands of innovators across the country – working on their own or within corporate workforces–on ideas that have the potential to substantively improve the quality of governance and magnitude of corporate profitability. While these innovators can accomplish impressive things acting independently, they can truly transform society if they collaborate via a formal and structured innovation process that can channel their best ideas.
This is the moment to reach out to them. As businesses, you will gain new ideas and new talent that will open doors to new markets and new customers. You will be introducing innovative products into markets cheaper and faster as your bulky innovation infrastructure will become open, leaner and responsive.
Governments and civil society organizations will find social returns from their interventions increasing, as innovators from the outside will start providing solutions to improve targeting and deepening outreach.
To remain competitive as a nation and create a more inclusive society, it’s time we seriously start taking measures to democratize innovation.
November 17, 2011
Skip Footer Links