‘Necessity is the mother of invention’, a very old saying that holds its virtue even today. Inventions are important but with fast pacing society, problems, markets and competitiveness, the word ‘INVENTION’ has been outdated at large by the word ‘INNOVATION’. Let’s discuss a bit about the differences among the twos.
In the words of Fagerberg: “Invention is the first occurrence of an idea for a new product or process, while innovation is the first attempt to carry it out into practice". So in other words, innovation is the better use of the already created invention or it can also be the derived use/application of the already known process/method or product. Example, microprocessor was an invention which has been innovatively used in thousands of products. The brainy humans have always the tendency to invent and innovate. Agriculture, wheel, alphabets, languages have been some of the basic innovations, while refrigerators, airplanes, LED T.V are the modern day human innovations.
Not going into much of the details of the Innovation/Innovative thinking and its parameters, I would like to draw your attention to the social, ecological problems of our country and the need of innovative thinking to solve them. India has big challenges such as: Creating employment for 500 million people in next 30 years ,to uplift 400 million people poverty ridden and to arrange proper sanitation facilities to almost a billion people.(CII Report: How India Innovates 2013). While other issues include cheap treatment, easy and early diagnosis of the diseases, climate change, natural disaster management, poor economy conditions and etc. And these issues can be resolved only by sustainable and innovative thinking. So, India’s fate as a developed country lies in the innovation only.
So, the innovations that will help India in achieving its aim can be in the form of products, process or business models. And these innovations will serve the society, consumers, market, government or ecosystem. Many such successful innovations are already there in the market and are doing their bit to bring the change. These innovations have not just been recognized by the national authorities but also by the international ones. I have discussed below some of those innovations in brief:
CHOTUKOOL: This innovative product was the inception of Gopalan Sunderraman, Executive Vice President of Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing. It’s a small and handy, low cost, low energy refrigerator that runs on 12V battery and can be used for food storage. The temperature inside the refrigerator is around 8-10 degrees. This innovation has also turned out as an aid of new income generating opportunities for rural people, now they can store and sell cold drinks and chocolates. Godrej Chotukool has also been awarded ‘GOLD EDISON AWARD’ in 2012 for social impact. (http://www.wipo.int/wipo_magazine/en/2013/06/article_0003.html)
Goonj- An NGO: Founded by Anshu Gupta. In 2012, NASA and the US state department chose Goonj as "Game Changing Innovation" and in the same year, Forbes magazine listed Gupta as one of India's most powerful rural entrepreneurs. The NGO provides urban excess household resources to the rural, poor and calamity struck area. Goonj carries around 1000 development activities under its program of ‘Cloth for Work (CFW)’. The activities include from repairing roads, recharging water ponds, digging wells and etc. In return the rural communities receive clothes and other materials that they need. This has led to curbing migration, improved sanitation. Another established benchmark named ‘Not just a piece of Cloth’. Under this program waste clothes were collected, washed, sanitized, and innovatively recycled into the sanitary pads. Over 3 million sanitary pads have been distributed to villages/slums. Many such scientific innovative programs have been initiated by Goonj that are creating a difference. (http://goonj.org/)
MiraCradle™ - Neonate Cooler: Innovated and marketed by Pluss Polymers (India). The project was headed by Ankit Jhanwar. It is a low cost thermal cradle for neonate intensive care that works on innovative PCM (Phase Change Material) technology. This is used to treat newborn suffering from Asphyxia by inducing therapeutic hypothermia. Since it works on the PCM material it does not use electricity and is safer. A data suggests that asphyxia globally accounts for 23% of the 4 million annual deaths of newborns, and leads to hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). The innovation has bagged many awards from reputed organizations like FICCI, CII and Indo-Global Health care summit & expo 2014. (http://www.miracradle.com/)
Mitrra Biotech: It is one of the innovative companies in India. It was founded by MIT and Harvard researchers and has headquarters in Bangalore (India). The company’s CANscriptsTM technology has created a revolution in conventional cancer drug therapies. By applying Data analytics and scientific research the patients’ tumor sample environment can be created artificially and various drugs can be tested in this artificial environment, thus allowing the personalized treatment and reducing the risk of the patients’ life. After launch in India, the technology has also been launched in USA in 2014. (www.mitrabiotech.com)
ROTAVAC®: An oral Rotavirus vaccine is totally made in India vaccine and is available at an affordable price of $1. Manufactured by Bharat biotech and was launched in March, 2015 by our Hono’ble Prime Minister. Its low cost will help in the reduction of 100,000 infant deaths in India due to rotavirus diarrhea and will contribute greatly worldwide as well. Almost 2 decades of hard work of government of India, DBT, Bharat biotech, US-NIH, Stanford University, and NGO-PATH has brought this fruit. (www.bharatbiotech.com)
The above mentioned innovations are just handful information of the lot happening in our society but a lot more is required to be done. As said by Albert Einstein, “We cannot solve our problem with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Thus innovative thinking is the need of the hour. The complex problems of today’s world can only be solved by the integrated understanding of science, society and market. We all have to create an innovative environment to enable innovative thinking for the betterment. As said by Mahatma Gandhi “The future depends on what you do today”. So let’s do it.