2016: State of research and innovation in India for a “Creative India, Innovative India”

Research and development is the genesis of innovation.

India has earned its place in the world as a fast growing source of research activity and innovation. In a testament to our research talent, leading multinational companies from around the world have set up their R&D centers in India. The research and innovation output from our research and academic institutions are demonstrating substantial growth.

India can continue to sustain this progress by driving research excellence in its institutions, encouraging industry-academia collaboration, establishing research and innovation friendly government policies, funding research that ensures impact and mitigation of country’s challenges, and continuing to invest in the infrastructure for intellectual property protection.

India Research Landscape

Research quantum

In comparison to developed countries such as US and Japan and BRICS countries, India ranks fourth on the quantum of the research output and second on the Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) parameter with a CAGR of 6 %. Appropriate investments into Research and Development from the government and the industry will play a critical role in boosting further growth on these numbers.

FIGURE 1: Articles published – comparison of BRIC nations
(SOURCE: Web of Science, InCites)

FIGURE 2: India’s contribution to the BRIC research output under the Essential Science Indicator subject categories during 2011-2015
(SOURCE: Web of Science, InCites)

Research focus

India’s quantum of research output is distributed across the 22 Essential Science Indicator (ESI) subject categories. Overall, research focus in India is in line with the global research focus. The top 5 areas of research are the same for India when compared to the world even though the order of subject categories differs within these top 5.

Being aligned with the global research focus helps to be relevant to the global research community and to collaborate on the common areas of research focus. However, it is also critical that the research and innovation community addresses the national challenges and areas of interest while defining and prioritizing their research focus.

FIGURE 3: World and India: Top 5 subject categories of research articles (Web of Science subject categories)
(SOURCE: Web of Science, InCites)

For subject categories with a minimum of 5000 articles during the analysis period, three of the top five areas where India has the most research output also happen to be amongst the top five growing areas based on CAGR^ – Multidisciplinary Chemistry (CAGR 14.1%), Applied Physics (CAGR 10.7%) and Multidisciplinary Materials Science (9.3%).

India Innovation Landscape

Quantum of innovation

India features in the top 10 patent office in the world – at the seventh rank, on the number of patent applications filed*. India has registered an impressive 17% compounded-annual-growth-rate (CAGR) on the volume of patents published in the last five years, way ahead of other developed and emerging countries, next only to China @25%. However, on the patents granted, the CAGR has only been 3%. Huge gap in these growth rates leads to an increasing backlog in patent prosecution.

FIGURE 4: CAGR – Patents published and Patents granted
Note: For Patents with Publication Date: 1/1/2011-31/12/2015
(SOURCE: Derwent Innovation)

Focus of innovation

Electronics & Telecommunication and Chemistry & Metallurgy make up for nearly half of the innovation output from India during 2011-15 (45%).

FIGURE 5: India – top technical categories 2011-2015

For categories with substantial number of patents (5000+) published during the period 2011-15, Transportation Systems, Machinery and Digital Computing are the fastest growing categories with a CAGR of 27%, 22.7% and 19%#.

India Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy

IPR Policy can be very instrumental in stimulating the innovation in a country. China is a case in point, where a series of IPR policies have been adopted by the central and state government to promote the innovation in the country.

With its recent IPR Policy, Government of India has taken a big step in the right direction to spur creativity and stimulate innovation. The Policy lays down seven objectives, which are elaborated with steps to be undertaken by the identified nodal Ministry/ Department@:

  1. IPR Awareness – Outreach and Promotion (To create public awareness about the economic, social and cultural benefits of IPRs among all sections of society).
  2. Generation of IPRs (To stimulate the generation of IPRs).
  3. Legal and Legislative Framework (To have strong and effective IPR laws, which balance the interests of rights owners with larger public interest).
  4. Administration and Management (To modernize and strengthen service-oriented IPR administration).
  5. Commercialization of IPRs (To get value for IPRs through commercialization).
  6. Enforcement and Adjudication (To strengthen the enforcement and adjudicatory mechanisms for combating IPR infringements).
  7. Human Capital Development (To strengthen and expand human resources, institutions and capacities for teaching, training, research and skill building in IPRs).

The IPR should continue to evolve in response to the dynamic nature of innovation landscape. Incentive plans should be defined on various parameters to ensure it addresses all the key considerations. For example, it should be aimed at boosting the domestic filing and international filing, encouraging good quality of the patents and ensuring that the patents are maintained for a longer period.

Patentability should be broadened for rapidly emerging technology areas to accommodate the interest of the inventors in such areas (e.g. software). Entire Patent protection process should be simplified and easily accessible nationally for a smooth application, prosecution and maintenance process.


India has an active, robust and notable research and innovation landscape. A strong network of research institutions, premier academic institutions, innovation intensive corporate R&D centers have put India on the world map when it comes to scholarly research and innovation.

With a plethora of steps by the Government of India in the right direction – National IPR policy, Make in India, IMPRINT India, Start-up India, there is no stopping a vibrant creative and innovative India from lighting up the global sky.

^ Web of Science
# Derwent Innovation, Derwent World Patent Index, WIPO
@National Intellectual Property Rights Policy