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Innovation at the Heart of Progress: Insights from Nilaya Varma at NITI Aayog's Workshop

Nilaya Varma, CEO and Co-Founder of Primus Partners, illuminated the NITI Aayog's National workshop on “Improving the Innovation Aptitude and the Performance of the States and the Union Territories” with his expertise. He was part of the panel discussion "Lessons Learned and Replicating Innovation Success Stories", which had senior policy makers, industry experts and though leaders, namely, Dr. Samir V Kamat (Secretary, Department of Defence Research and Development), who chaired the panel, Shri Sanjeev Bikhchandani (Founder and Executive Vice Chairman, Info Edge), Dr. Manish Diwan (Head, Strategic Partnership and Entrepreneurship Development, Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council), and Shri Pramath Raj Sinha, (Chairperson, Board of Trustees, Ashoka University), all graced the occasion alongside Nilaya.

Nilaya commenced by emphasising on prioritising true innovation from the prevalent startup culture, highlighting its broader scope.

He presented compelling data, including on the significant role of innovation in economic disparities between nations like India and the USA. He stressed that innovation is less about policies and more about culture, citing studies that point out the dissatisfaction in organizational innovation performance, despite its prioritization.

Emphasizing the economic benefits of innovation, Nilaya discussed how companies who are proficient in innovation, yield economic profits higher than their counterparts. He also noted the pivotal role of talent, particularly in tech sectors, where over half of the skilled workforce in places like Silicon Valley is foreign-born.

Celebrating India's achievements, he spotlighted digital technological innovations like Aadhar and the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), showcasing India's capability for large-scale innovation.

Focusing on Karnataka, Nilaya praised its innovation ecosystem, marked by diversity, a robust support system, and frequent idea-sharing platforms. He then outlined his five key areas of intervention for fostering innovation:

1. Incentivizing R&D: Highlighting the effectiveness of government subsidies and grants.

2. Promoting Small Business and Procurement: Citing Rajasthan's approach to supporting startups through procurement acts and innovation awards.

3. Building Skilled Ecosystems: Advocating for STEM education and training, exemplified by Rajasthan's iStart Launchpads.

4. Direct Grants for R&D and Focus on IPR: Emphasizing the need for targeted funding and intellectual property rights protection.

5. Embarking on Mission-Oriented Projects: Suggesting ambitious projects akin to NASA's moon landing to drive innovation.

The discussion concluded with three critical takeaways: the necessity of IP protection, the importance of industry-academia collaboration, and the impact of clear policy incentives.

Primus Partners remains dedicated to these principles, driving forward the innovation narrative for a brighter, more efficient future.