India, the emerging innovation hub for global products
Blog: NASSCOM Official Blog
The evolution of Indian ER&D Ecosystem
India is today one of the largest exporters of ER&D services worldwide, comprising of close to one-third of the
$100 billion global engineering outsourcing market. The success story for this rapidly growing engineering services ecosystem had started with the global organizations leveraging the vast talent pool to set up their global capability centers or partnering with service providers to provide support to their product development activities. However, over the past decade the capabilities of the Indian ER&D ecosystem have matured and it has emerged as the global hub for innovation for enterprises worldwide.
The scale and depth of India’s talent in engineering has enhanced the enterprises’ confidence in the Indian ER&D to own and deliver products for the global, local and regional markets. Owning the development of these cutting-edge products has been a true testament to the Indian engineering and product development capabilities.
Driving ownership for global product lines
Many global enterprises are increasingly looking at India as the key hub for development of their global product lines. For the global enterprises undertaking this initiative, combining India’s ER&D competencies with its manufacturing capabilities provides them with unique advantages in managing the products over their entire lifecycle. Philips Healthcare has tapped into this advantage by setting up its Healthcare Innovation Center in Pune that serves as a global hub for mobile surgery portfolio of products. The BV Vectra mobile C-Arm system which is primarily used in orthopedic surgeries was one of the first products developed from the center and is currently being sold in over 90 countries worldwide. Its assembly plant in Chakan, a few kilometers outskirts of the city of Pune also manufactures these products giving the Philips a complete view of the entire product life cycle.
Opening up new markets for the global enterprises
The Indian ER&D centers have long been serving as development centers for India-specific products which would support the enterprises’ expansion in the local market. However, these products are also helping the enterprises to unlock new market segments in both developing and developed markets worldwide.
GE’s John F Welch Technology Center in India provides us with a good example of this trend. The center has been foundational in GE’s expansion in Indian market by developing India-specific new products which are driving their expansion strategy in the Indian market. Their power division had recently teamed up with Tata Power to develop Hybrid Distributed Power units which consist of an integrated system of solar panels, battery and diesel generators to provide electricity in rural India. The unit can help provide a village of about 1000 people with electricity to meet their basic needs such as lighting bulbs, running fans and charging mobile phones.
The success of the product has encouraged GE to take it to other markets with similar needs. The product has also been installed in Ethiopia to support medical centers on outskirts of the main town and in Australia to provide energy to remote mining sites operating outside of the main grid. Indian innovation is thus helping enterprises not just expand into new market but also improve lives across multiple continents.
India as the Innovation hub for new-age technology products
Indian ER&D ecosystem has increasingly embraced next-gen technologies which are fueling the development of digital products. Technologies such as IoT, big data, analytics, robotics, etc. have become the core of the product development programs in India. For example, LTTS, the engineering services company had leveraged its expertise in digital technologies to engineer an autonomous welding robot for a major pipeline manufacturer. The battery-operated robot is capable of internally welding pipes as small as 8 in. internal diameter. The robot employs special algorithms to intelligently weld pipes of varying thicknesses in offshore conditions with high weld integrity. The product is expected to vastly improve operator safety while also reducing overall welding costs for the enterprise’s customers.
Another company that has been leveraging their India R&D center to provide customized customer solutions by using advanced technologies is Siemens. Its India center helped Siemens Power Generation Services business unit to develop the industry’s first ever 3D-printed part to be installed in the steam turbine. The project
involved engineering, design and development of two oil sealing rings which are used to keep oil separated from steam inside the steam turbine using pressurized air. The collaborative efforts of Siemens experts in Germany, India and Sweden helped deliver this project for a steel manufacturer in India. Usage of additive manufacturing process allowed the team to re-design the components with functional improvements while also reducing the part replacement lead-time by 40%. The precedent set by the project is expected to provide an impetus to the use of 3D-printing for producing replacement parts globally.
Enabling flexible and agile innovation
The current COVID-19 pandemic had been the ultimate test for the Indian ER&D ecosystem. The Indian ER&D organizations have adapted rapidly to continue with their development projects with minimum disruptions. Some of them have excelled to develop unique innovations which would help the world cope with crisis. Honeywell’s India R&D center has developed a portable ultraviolet system to sanitize aircraft cabin surfaces after each flight, as a response to the requirement of reducing surface transmission of the virus. The product is undergoing trails by multiple airlines globally such as Qatar Airways and JetBlue among others. With the opening up of air travel, the solution is expected to help airlines ensure the safety of the passengers travelling onboard. This latest product is another addition to the portfolio of more than 3000 products, solutions and innovative applications that Honeywell has engineered in India for India and for the rest of the world.
During COVID-19 pandemic Indian Companies rose to the occasion and developed ventilators that they had never done before. Nocca Robotics, an Indian startup developed an indigenous ventilator at about one-fourth the price of imported ones, which not-only assists the patient in respiration but also eliminates the virus in the exhaled air. This unique solution helps to reduce the risks for healthcare workers treating the COVID-19 patients. With the pandemic putting a severe constraint on India’s ability to import medical equipment due to heavy international demand, the indigenously developed product proved to be a game-changer in delivering essential healthcare to affected population.
Recognizing the ingenuity of Indian Engineering
The Indian ER&D ecosystem has evolved rapidly over the last few years. The ecosystem’s capabilities in technology, the favorable policies for investment and strong laws for protecting intellectual property are significantly boosting its profile as the top destination for global R&D investment. With the current pace of growth, India is expected to become a critical stakeholder in the global product development value chain over the next decade. NASSCOM seeks to recognize the inventiveness of products engineered in India for the global markets through the Engineering and Innovation Excellence Awards.