Driving Global Innovations from Emerging Markets

WASHINGTON DC, March 1, 2011 – “There is a big gap between the growth potential of India and our ability to actually seize that potential.” These were the words from General Electric’s top management at Indovations, a panel discussion on how global innovations from emerging markets may serve as a platform not only for businesses, but also for investors to create sustainable development in both emerging and developed countries. According to V Raja, the President of GE Healthcare in India, this gap requires businesses to communicate with native consumers and commercialize and localize manufactures and R&D according to their needs.

Moderator of the event and Executive Director of the Centre for India and Global Business at the Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge, Navi Radjou, said this emerging market focus on resources and needs will inspire "indovations," a term he coined to describe innovations developed in India to serve a large number of people affordably and sustainably. Innovation in India, he said, is “inspired by, developed from, and commercialized at the base of local customer demands.”

Radjou outlined some key points for successful indovations: simple, low-cost, high-value and high-volume. “The formula is more with less for more,” he said.

Already, multinational corporations like GE have engaged in "reverse innovations," a process in which GE has adapted its existing business model to integrate the Indian markets into their global innovation network. "The West will meet the East in India and both will co-innovate new solutions for the entire world," Radjou said.

Peter Harrison, CEO of GlobalLogic, said companies must tap into innovation on demand to provide India with sustainable innovations. This process requires a collaborative and diverse network that includes countries such as India, China, and the United States.

Kurt Larsen, Senior Education Specialist at the Knowledge for Development Program at the World Bank Institute, emphasized the transformation towards knowledge-based economies in emerging markets. For example, successful businesses in the Indian agriculture sector contribute to the innovation of local economies.

Radhika Thakkar, Head of Global Partnerships at Greenlight Planet, explained how indovations can be converted into products and services and how well-functioning governments and institutions can make them affordable and sustainable.

Reported by Grace Gan-Yin Liu, Asia Society Washington Center