'India has the software talent for now, but enterprises need to grow the pool'

On day 3 of TechSparks 2021, a top panel from global engineering R&D centres discussed what's needed to widen the software talent pool in India.
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“India enterprises need to do the heavy-lifting in terms of the funder portion for research and development (R&D),” said Rajiv Mathew, Head of Corporate Innovation and Market Connect (Japan and APAC) of Oracle, on day 3 of TechSparks 2021, India's most influential startup-tech conference organised by YourStory.

With the theme 'What's Next: Rethinking the future', TechSparks 2021 is providing a platform for the most defining conversations on how disruptive technology innovations can shape our lives post-pandemic.

To this end, it has brought together more than 400 global leaders, technology startups, large enterprises, and thought leaders from the global innovation ecosystem who are rethinking the future to enable what’s next.

"One way for enterprises to kickstart innovation is invest internally and start from scratch," Rajiv said in a panel discussion on 'Innovation growing out of India R&D centres'. "Another way is to partner with startups, who are already working in new areas and driving innovations."

Industries like banking, financial services, insurance, manufacturing, retail, and telecom are looking hard for enterprise-grade startups, Rajiv noted.

They are hoping to expand capabilities in areas like artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain and cybersecurity. "India has the skillsets now. This is the time to capitalise and grow on the opportunity,” he asserted.

India is home to more than 1,500 engineering R&D or development centres of global enterprises like GE, Tesco, and Philips. Simultaneously, the startup ecosystem has grown exponentially in the past decade with a focus on both domestic and global opportunities.

The panel agreed that companies need to keep growing the pool of engineering talent. “Leverage is still waiting to be fully exploited and optimised,” Supria Dhanda, Vice President and Country Manager - India, Western Digital, told moderator Madanmohan Rao, Research Director, Yourstory Media.

“We need an India playbook,” she asserted. “Local partnerships will go a long way.”

The partnerships should be designed to source from new regions and widen the talent pool in India, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digitisation in several parts of the country. “Let’s tie up with universities and the startups, and find where the new talent is,” Supria added.

Josh Shabtai, Senior Director-Ecosystem, Lowe's Innovation Labs, said the home-improvement retailer from the US is looking at ways to tap emerging and exponential technologies, and create new capabilities that make it easier for its customers.

Lowe's Innovation Labs is working with a variety of startups in artificial intelligence for research on next generation materials. "We connect them to business stakeholders and technology stakeholders, to set them up and get access to the North American market," Josh added.


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For a line-up of all the action-packed sessions at YourStory's flagship startup-tech conference, check out TechSparks 2021 website.

Edited by Kunal Talgeri