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Omer Basith


Virtual Forest

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SELF-RELIANT MANUFACTURING In the long-term, the key will be the R&D capacity of manufacturers

Mar 29, 2022

…mentions Omer Basith, Co-founder, Virtual Forest – a consumer appliance manufacturing company specialising in motor control and human interface. In his interview with Anvita Pillai, Basith elaborates on the $400 billion market opportunity for electronics manufacturers, self-reliant manufacturing and more. Excerpts…

What prompted you to start Virtual Forest? What problems do you offer solutions to?

We started Virtual Forest in 2019 to transform electronics systems design and manufacturing in India by making it a hub for technologies, which will combat climate change. There is a major opportunity to make home appliances up to 30% more energy efficient by implementing motor control and replacing induction motors with more efficient motors. We are enabling this shift in application areas such as ceiling fans, ACs, washing machines and kitchen appliances.

The electronics manufacturing sector is promoted to reach the ₹7 lakh crore mark next fiscal. What opportunities does it present for your business?

The future of electronics manufacturing looks promising as the demand for electronic products is expected to reach $400 billion by 2025. Our vision is to make India an electronics hub using energy-saving technologies. We are bullish about supporting this vision through our integrated R&D, manufacturing and support platform. That is one of the major reasons behind our early success. Today, we power the home appliance and EV segments with our energy-efficient motor controllers.

India is still heavily reliant on electronic imports from China. Amidst the ongoing row, what could be the ultimate impact of reduced imports and increased exports?

The pandemic has taught important lessons to enterprises with the impact it has had on businesses and supply chains. If there is any lesson to be taken from the last two years, securing domestic supply chains is the only foolproof way of securing functional autonomy and self-reliance. More importantly, doing so ensures that the value addition of these electronics goods is captured within Indian borders to benefit the economy. In my view, building electronics manufacturing capabilities, especially for components, is critical to the country’s growth.

With ‘Aatmanirbharta’ being the motto of the manufacturing industry, how can manufacturers develop EMS capabilities to be completely self-reliant?

India is so dependent on Chinese component manufacturers that complete de-linkage is impossible soon. But we must strengthen the domestic supply chain to meet the rising demand for electronic goods, which needs to be supported by government policies. Incentive schemes, like PLIs and Design Linked Incentive (DLI), are an excellent start. In the long-term, the key will be the R&D capacity of manufacturers. The ability to innovate and create designs will allow them to adapt to technology trends and stay relevant. More importantly, it will transform their margins to save on intellectual property fees for designs.

What strategies are in place by Virtual Forest to strengthen its market position in 2022?

To begin with, we continue to focus on developing and manufacturing technologies in India to increase energy efficiency in key areas such as HVAC, mobility, pumping/agriculture, etc. We believe that these energy-efficient technologies are inevitable, and the value generated by all these applications must be captured domestically. So far, we are on track with our goals and think that 2022 will be a crucial year for Indian electronics manufacturing.

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