Saturday, September 18, 2010

National Innovation System: Definition

What India needs is a national innovation system (NIS) that operates like a national grid in which innovation change agents and operators can be plugged in, and where common issues can be abstracted and dealt with separately. By harnessing all the nodes of positive influences for scale, the NIS functions like a dynamic web of public–private partnerships that broker transactions between grassroots innovators, entrepreneurs and large corporations. The role of the NIC as apex body is to serve as a policy-orientated intellectual property think-tank that enables the functioning and harnessing of the actors.

Picture Source: Famous Scientists Blog

Such a national grid will connect banks, venture capitalists, markets, technologists, public R&D entities, universities, NGOs, national industries and global networks with individual innovators, SME innovators and large scale innovators. Their primary role would be to convert native knowledge into revenue and viable wealth creation opportunities at different innovation demands namely improving rural GDP, national GDP and global competitiveness.
I strongly advocate a multi-tiered innovation model for creating national significance. A multi-tiered model conceptually clarifies the emphasis on the layered focus that is required to shape a national innovation agenda given the diverse needs of the country, including the demands of India’s mature industries, need for accelerating domestic consumption and the need for multiplying rural GDP.

What is missing is a coordinated effort of national significance and scale. This is where the NIS fits in, providing the required independence for each of the tier structures and at the same providing an osmotic effect at the tier boundaries in such a way that innovation performance is enhanced. Borrowing from the biological process of osmosis, such inter-tier collaboration will be akin to the effect of cellophane separating two liquids of different concentrations where a liquid at higher concentration draws the liquid at lower concentration through micro pores in the cellophane paper. The idea here is that when there is a concentration of innovation activity and investment meeting the criteria for success, the entire system should be drawn to it funnelling down resources required to enable, facilitate and cross-pollinate the innovation. The proactive agents in the network such as the government, or the National Innovation Council charged with innovation, can then influence where the concentration of activity should be using the appropriate balance of policy, incentives and rewards while maintaining the balance required at each tier. Levers can be used to persevere in a research agenda that may not see an immediate result but yet is an important innovative activity.
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