New Delhi : Asserting that the move towards digitization
is not simply a private sector phenomenon, US envoy Richard R. Verma has said innovation and technology go hand in hand.
“We see it in government, civil society, educational institutions, and
so much more. The more digitized, high tech world has transformed how we communicate, how we learn, and in how we interact and excel professionally and personally,” said Verma.
“So, innovation and technology go hand in hand. While technology
cannot be a substitute for a good idea, it can be the accelerator, the
connector and the enabler,” he added.
The US envoy said there is no question innovation is essential to
achieving economic growth, prosperity and security in so many areas.
“We know, just from the data collected about the U.S. economy, that
innovation is essential to our growth. In fact, from 1948 to 2012,
over half of the total increase in U.S. productivity growth came from
innovation and technological change, according to the White House,” said Verma.
“The challenge, I find, is that we use the word “innovation” a lot –
and we do not often know exactly what we are referring to. It reminds me of the phrases “smart cities” and “public private partnerships” – important terms to be sure, but terms that probably mean something different to everyone in this room. And, that’s ok. For me, “innovation” signifies a commitment for change – and a drive and quest to make life better, safer, easier, healthier in so many ways,” he added.
The US envoy recalled Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s thrust on
innovation during his visit to the Silicon Valley last year.
“I had the great privilege to be in Silicon Valley when Prime
Minister Modi was there last fall. I heard him speak in several
different forums about innovation. He called for bringing together
the best minds of India and the United States, who could use the
latest advances in science and technology to solve our two countries’- and the world’s – biggest challenges,” said Verma.
“In short, he encouraged all of us to look at ways to harness our
great networks of entrepreneurs and innovators to improve the
condition of ordinary people. My takeaway was that we should not
settle for business as usual that involved long and winding paths for
economic development – it was time to be disruptive in our thinking,
not accept the status quo, and drive for the greatest social impact.
That’s what innovation means to me, and I appreciate the Prime
Minister helping to articulate such a clear vision of how technology,
new thinking and social development are inexorably linked,” he added.
Stating that Prime Minister Modi’s vision tracks quite well with that
of US President Barack Obama, Verma said: “Some of you may not be aware that last October the President announced a new Strategy for American Innovation, and similar to Prime Minister Modi, he called upon Americans to ‘harness innovation to help address our Nation’s most important challenges’.”
“He emphasized investing in advanced R&D, launched efforts to make the Federal government more innovative to improve its performance, and identified nine strategic focus areas, including advanced manufacturing, precision medicine, the advanced study of the brain, autonomous vehicles, space exploration and research, and clean energy, just to name some of the nine areas,” he added.
The US envoy said innovations that fail to keep pace or draw upon the best and latest technologies may simply not be sustainable or
scalable, and both are critical.
“Take, for example, the insights of John Chambers, the new Chairman of the U.S.-India Business Council, who led Cisco for decades and kept the company at the forefront of many ground breaking developments. He says that there are around 10 billion devices connected to the internet today, and that by 2030, there will be closer to 500 billion connected devices. This trend toward digitization, what he calls the “Internet of Things”, will change every aspect of day to day business, from supply chain to customer interface to productivity,” said Verma.
“Yet only 25 percent of executives have a proactive plan to address
digitization to head into this new emerging area. Companies and
leaders that recognize this trend and adapt will find new profit
streams and benefit from being in tune with customers’ expectations,” he added.
Verma mentioned some innovations and innovative thinking don’t
necessarily rely on advanced technologies.
“At the NGO Sulabh right here in New Delhi, millions of new toilets
have been constructed based on their basic design, which is fully
biodegradable and has the potential for converting waste into sources of biomass fuel. No massive infrastructure costs, just incredible ingenuity to solve a longstanding health and safety issue,” said Verma.
Verma in his remark on “The Impact of U.S. and Indian Innovations in
Global Business”, organized yesterday by the University of Chicago
Delhi Center, pointed out that a number of big and small initiatives
will in the years ahead draw upon the best in class innovations and
innovators from both countries
Verma asserted that the U.S.-India Science and Technology Endowment Fund and Millennium Alliance have strong track records in promoting innovation.
“We will continue to support both efforts in the years ahead,” he added. (ANI)