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India poised to emerge as Research And Development hub for mainstream operations: Mahindra and Mahindra top brass

With over 100 patents filed last year by IIT-Madras, India is cruising on the IP (intellectual property) front. That the country has become a hub for R&D in many respects is something that needs to be acknowledged, said Pawan K Goenka, MD, Mahindra & Mahindra, at the four-day 37th FISITA World Automotive Congress, here on Wednesday.

India poised to emerge as Research And Development hub for mainstream operations: Mahindra and Mahindra top brass
(L-R) Arvind Balaji, K Venkatraj, Murali Iyer, Bharadwaj, Pawan K Goenka and Chris Mason of FISITA


“Indian companies like Mahindra, Tata, Leyland have a fairly large R&D portfolio for their own needs with about 4,000 engineers. All multinational OEMs today have set-up R&D here – in Chennai (Nissan), Hyderabad and Pune. Everyone has thousands of engineers working in these facilities,” he said. But, the difference is that Indian R&D happening for the MNCs is not mainstream but supportive of the headquarters R&D efforts, said Goenka, who is also a Patron, Steering Committee, FISITA.  Maintaining that the next step would be for the country to emerge as R&D hubs for mainstream work, he said, already companies such as GE or GM have set up their R&D facilities in Bengaluru. Thousands of engineers working in these MNCs were doing back-end (like CAD) but cutting-edge technology work. 

However, the R&D potential was not being leveraged enough to position India as being able to generate IPR swiftly. “I would say, we are a little bit slow on this front but that is changing rapidly. I was impressed to note that IIT-M had applied for over 100 patents last year, which is a fairly impressive number,” Goenka said. The last five years were indicative of a period when a lot had happened with the country now poised for a higher ramp up on the R&D side in the next five years. India will be known for its ability to do R&D, he said, noting that a favourable aspect is the cost of doing R&D, which is still low compared to developing nations.

Arvind Balaji, JMD, Lucas TVS, said, “We are expecting to be where the rest of the world is and they have done this for 100 years. Some amount of ecosystem is also required for us. Indian engineers are as good as anybody else in the world. But put to context in respect to the maturity issue, we are on the path. It is a matter of time for India to emerge as the R&D and IP generation hub.”  

Murli Iyer, Global Executive Advisor, SAE International and VP, FISITA Americas, said after four years of pitching for it, the domestic auto industry had exhibited maturity to hold such a conference. And, Chennai was the obvious choice given the ‘Detroit’ mantle that the metro had. With MNCs and domestic biggies such as Mahindras and the TVS, leading local manufacturers and component manufacturers providing their support, the conference proved to be an ideal platform for presenting a large number of technical papers, networking opportunity, creation of intellectual wealth and the learning offered.”

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