Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) recently organised the 7th edition of West-Tech Summit 2019. Like each year, the summit provided start-ups the fruitful opportunity to showcase their products and services to corporates. It also gave a clear insight on India’s pathway to rebranding itself and how the culture of innovation is inevitable. What’s more, it provided a better picture on how data is, indeed, the oil of mobility.
R&D and innovation have to grow together
The summit began with its opening session – ‘Driving innovation through R&D’, which took off with Shrikant Bapat, Chairman, CII Pune Zonal Council & General Manager – Building Technologies & Solutions & Managing Director, Johnson Controls India, giving the welcome address. He mentioned that modern India has a lot of focus on R&D as it will push innovation and employment. “The government is also aspiring to keep India at the global level in terms of science and technology and innovation,” he said. After this, Alakesh Roy, Vice Chairman, CII Pune Zonal Council & Managing Director, Zamil Steel India & General Director, Zamil Steel Vietnam, took over. Pointing out how R&D is viewed in India, he cited, “R&D is more of a product level thing and innovation is more generic – and both have to grow together.”
A living innovation ecosystem
Further throwing light on customer behaviour, Rajan Navani, Chairman, CII WR Sub-Committee on Innovation, Technology and Digitalisation and Vice Chairman & Managing Director, JetSynthesys, highlighted that any incremental change that one is trying to make and then try to change customer behaviour does not work anymore. “The only way to address our challenges is to create a living innovation ecosystem,” he clarified.
Encourage asking questions
This was followed by Sanjiv Bajaj’s, Chairman, CII Western Region and Managing Director & CEO, Bajaj Finserv, address. He emphasised that any large country can’t be self-sufficient without innovation and the culture of innovation. “We need to create new innovations within the company and encourage asking questions and thinking. While the government is organising the country in a particular direction, we also need to see how we can leverage what we are being provided with,” he told the audience.
India has long branded itself as the world’s leading outsourcing destination for global companies, particularly for those in the technology sector. Revolving around this theme, the event then delved into its next session – ‘CXO Session: Rebranding India through transforming cultural innovation.’ The session was moderated by Deepak Garg, Co-Convenor, CII Maharashtra Panel on Policy Advocacy & EODB and Managing Director, Sany South Asia & Sany Heavy Industry India. The esteemed panellists were Dr Ravindra Kulkarni, Managing Director, Elkay Chemicals; G K Pillai, Managing Director & CEO, Walchandnagar Industries; Shrivardhan Gadgil, Director & CEO, Behr-Hella Thermocontrol India (BHTC, India) and Kranthi Tata, Managing Director, GE Multi Modal Facility.
Branding India through R&D and innovation
The first question was shot at Tata, asking him how he sees India transforming itself in terms of innovation. To this, Tata responded earnestly that there are many companies in India that have their R&D in India because of the phenomenal talent. “Plus, in a country of bazillon, the solution is always innovation,” he said. The next question was directed towards Pillai, asking him how he thinks the public sector can transform the brand India moving towards innovation.
“We first need to ask if we have a brand,” Pillai instantly responded and went on, “It is important we brand India through innovation and R&D.” In a candid exchange of views, the discussion further turned to education culture, where the question was raised that what can primarily be done to see that the brand image of India, in terms of skill development and education, is restored to the highest level as the global standards. Sharing his views on this, Gadgil asserted that students need to be called into industries and given an exposure to how it works. “Only then will they be able to handle upcoming challenges,” he explained.
How Pune can contribute
As the discussion neared its close, Garg, zeroing in on the city of Pune, went on to ask Kulkarni how the city can contribute to rebranding and transforming India. To this, Dr Kulkarni divulged that Pune’s education title is far from what it can achieve. “We want to leverage our education brand to create a new brand,” he conveyed and continued, “The industries here are willing to train people and rebrand us. We can create some of the best technologies that are needed across the globe if many of the companies succeed in marketing their core competencies well.”
Data-driven mobility & start-up showcase
The second panel discussion covered the topic – ‘Technovation: Data driven mobility’. The session was moderated by Nilesh Sahasrabudhe, Convenor, CII Pune IT Panel & Global Head, Cognitive Automation CoE, Tieto Inc, and the revered panellists were Yogesh Zope, Chief Digital Officer, Kalyani Group; Abhijeet Ratolikar, AVP – Innovation, Maxion Wheels; Shreekanth Moorthy, Chief Information Officer, Tata Technologies and Sachin Wadikhaye, Innovation Manager, Eaton Corp. Following this, the summit came to its final element – ‘Innov-Tech: An exclusive technology start-up showcase’. For this session, Pratima Kirloskar, President Innovation Society, Kirloskar Brothers; Dr Kulkarni & Ajay Pitre, Managing Partner, Pitre Venture LLP gave their respective addresses, followed by presentations by start-ups like Aeropure UV Systems, LVL Alpha and Whee Ride.
A winning platform
The summit turned out to be a winning one, covering all the vast areas in the industry that need to be addressed and thought upon, from taking into consideration the innovation and R&D aspect to giving an opening for start-ups to network and grow.