Here’s why the industry and government believe India is the next big destination for ‘invention’

At the QDIC 2020 cohort meet with the Secretary of DPIIT, Dr Guruprasad Mohapatra reaffirms that India is the right place for digital technology
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On August 11, 12 startups presented their innovative solutions to the Secretary of the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) - Dr. Guruprasad Mohapatra as part of the Qualcomm Design in India Challenge (QDIC) 2020 Cohort.

This interaction didn’t just provide the startups an opportunity to showcase their technological innovations and its impact, but also express their concerns, challenges and suggestions.

Adiuvo Diagnostics, Aubotz Labs, Bagmo, Embedsense Solutions, Hachidori Robotics, Nemocare Wellness, Peer Robotics, Planys Technologies, Prakshep, Senselink Technology, Vacus Tech and WELLNESYS Technologies were the 12 startups that presented their solutions to the Secretary

The interaction also saw participation from Joint Sec’y Shri Anil Agrawal and senior leadership from Qualcomm including Rajen Vagadia, VP and President, Qualcomm India and SAARC and Sudeepto Roy, VP Engineering, Qualcomm Technology Licensing, who leads the Regional Strategy Engagement in the region from San Diego.

QDIC at a glance

With the Qualcomm Design in India Programme, under which the QDIC is conducted, Qualcomm has played a key role in India’s vision to transform into a digitally empowered society. Through QDIC, Qualcomm has empowered the domestic hardware ecosystem by providing startups access to resources and opportunities to develop useful and innovative hardware product designs.

As part of the incubation programme, startups get access to prize money, patent filing support and incentives, Qualcomm technologies and platforms, Qualcomm Innovation Lab and Qualcomm experts and accelerator services. That’s not all - startups also get to participate in relevant industry events such as Qualcomm’s 5G Summit in Hong Kong, India Mobile Congress (IMC) in New Delhi, Meet Taipei Startup Festival, Smart Cities Accelerate San Diego, among others.

Qualcomm also facilitates meet-and-greet sessions with Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and DPIIT for the startups to showcase their solutions and help the government get introduced to Indian startups building innovative solutions.

Due to the challenges brought about by COVID-19, this year’s interactions took place online.

The rally for innovation with 5G

Rajen Vagadia, VP & President Qualcomm India & SAARC, kicked-off the interaction with an overview of QDIP and how it has enabled startups, businesses and students to accelerate innovation with its focus on IP and value creation. He said that Qualcomm has also worked with the government to address key technology challenges, most recent being the support in developing the Arogya Sethu app, which has become key ammunition to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in India.

“As a key technology player, we understand the algorithms and platforms that a robust tech solution needs. In addition to providing technical support, one of the areas where we pitched in to bring enhancements to the app was by helping optimise its power consumption to minimise impact to battery life of the phone.”

Rajen also brought to the fore the potential of 5G and how it will accelerate digital disruption in India. He explained how Qualcomm is working together with the industry to develop India-relevant 5G use-cases and the excitement of driving the 5G rollout along with the larger ecosystem in the country. Rajen appreciated the government for its efforts in spearheading the ‘5G Hackathon’, which the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) organised in association with a number of academia and industry stakeholders.

“This was a brilliant initiative as it not only encouraged the ecosystem to explore the possibilities of 5G use cases but also helped to put the spotlight on the relevance of 5G.”

Setting up a world-class lab, Rajen shared that Qualcomm is working on a blueprint to enable startups to leverage 5G infrastructure to deep dive into the technology and further the next era of innovation in the country.

Enabling startups to protect their inventions

At the interaction, Sudeepto Roy, Vice-President, Engineering, Qualcomm Technology Licensing (QTL) shared that in the last five years QDIC has incubated 65 startups. The startups have collectively raised 70 million+ in capital funding and filed 95 patents. “Today, we are getting applications for our programmes across India, which highlights that the spirit of innovation is spreading far beyond the metros and into Tier 1 & 2 cities and the diversity of innovation. This year at QDIC 2020 cohort, we have startups representing eight states with solutions across smart robotics and drones, smart infrastructure, agritech, rural internet of things (IoT), medical technology, 5G and NavIC.”

Qualcomm has been enabling startups that are a part of the successive cohorts to understand how to protect their inventions and patents and also empower them to take ownership and protect their hardware and ingenuity. He shared that Qualcomm has been fronting a number of ecosystem outreach programmes, including the Learn to Protect (L2Pro) Intellectual Property programme to further raise awareness of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). He also deep-dived into the scope and impact of the L2Pro programme, an e-learning programme to educate and encourage IPR in India with a focus on startups.

An impactful engagement with the DPIIT aligns with Qualcomm’s objective to create an IP culture in India and the government policies of Startup India and Make in India. The programme was launched by Dr. Guruprasad Mohapatra in October 2019. Addressing the Secretary, Sudeepto said, “We are on track to complete the final module by September 2020. After this, we will go for massive expansion so that students studying engineering, science, law and relevant fields can learn the value of IPR and how they can protect their inventions.”

Announcing a key development, Sudeepto said, “In our labs in Bengaluru, we have installed commercial 5G test equipment and now have half a gigabyte of speed. So, we are ready to support the startup and the business ecosystem realise the possibilities of 5G.”

Furthering the growth of startups and digital technology for nation-building

Dr. Guruprasad Mohapatra congratulated all the startups for their selection into the QDIC programme and said.

“The presentations made today are enough to reaffirm my belief that India is the right place for digital technology.”
He added, “India is one of the biggest and fastest-growing digital markets in the world today. The government led by the Honourable Prime Minister gives a lot of emphasis on promotion of digital technology, not only to bridge the digital divide, but also to offer digital technology to the common people of the country at a price that is affordable, at a speed that is dependable and across a range of activities that can touch common life.”

In his address, Dr. Mohapatra also thanked Qualcomm for running QDIC for five successful years and said, “I am very happy to promote a programme like QDIC. I understand the impact of initiatives like QDIC and several others that Qualcomm leads. I request them to continue these initiatives.”

The Secretary also shared that DPIIT has worked on a scheme for seed funding and guaranteed credit for startups which is being reviewed and awaiting approval “In addition to fast-tracking patent applications, we are also working on instituting an exchange programme with countries like Japan, US and other European countries so that the startup can get the IP credentials approved at the same time across the two countries.”

The next big destination for invention is here - India

Concluding the event, Rajen shared, “This is a joint government-industry effort and we take it very seriously. This is the fifth year of the initiative and we would like to see our startups move towards becoming unicorns.”

Drawing attention to the fact that as a company Qualcomm invests 30 percent of the revenue in R&D, Rajen said, “In due modesty, if there is any company in the world who understands patents, it would be us. And, it’s great to see QDIC startups realising the importance of IP.” He explained that the startups have global ambitions and hence are encouraged to file patents in India as well as in other geographies.

Given the rapid pace of innovation as reflected in the quality of QDIC applications and the work of the startups part of the programme, Rajen said, “It is safe to say India will be the next big destination for invention.”

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