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  New aspirations
   Healthcare indic...
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 Table of Contents    
Year : 2013  |  Volume : 45  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 215-216

Building an innovation eco-system: A daunting challenge

Bombay College of Pharmacy, Kalina, Santacruz (E), Mumbai-400098, India

Date of Web Publication15-May-2013

Correspondence Address:
S K Kulkarni
Bombay College of Pharmacy, Kalina, Santacruz (E), Mumbai-400098
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0253-7613.111892

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How to cite this article:
Kulkarni S K. Building an innovation eco-system: A daunting challenge. Indian J Pharmacol 2013;45:215-6

How to cite this URL:
Kulkarni S K. Building an innovation eco-system: A daunting challenge. Indian J Pharmacol [serial online] 2013 [cited 2023 Sep 29];45:215-6. Available from: https://www.ijp-online.com/text.asp?2013/45/3/215/111892

  New aspirations Top

Forty percent of Indian population (nearly 500 million) is in the age group of 15 to 40 years (average age would be between 25 and 29 years). The young generation has its dreams, aspirations, expectations, and political sensitivity. Young India would be a huge human resource (talent) in nation building. It is a great opportunity and equally a challenge in fulfilling their hopes and aspirations. Any failure in this endeavor would be a demographic disaster.

One of the goals of the National Knowledge Commission (NKC-2005) was to transform India in to a knowledge-based society. It envisaged expanding and strengthening base of our educational system, a mammoth task for the educationists, education providers both public and private, Universities, and the policy makers. Unfortunately, the two commissions namely, National Commission for Higher Education and Research and National Commission for Health Education expected to harness these opportunities are yet to be promulgated.

The report (2008) of the National Institute of Science, Technology, and Development under the aegis of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research examined the core parameters of scientific progress, dynamics of research inputs, and outcomes in Indian Universities, National Laboratories, Industries, Health sector, and the social relevance. The study showed that even though Science and Technology is in the growth phase, India's share in global Science and Technology pool is the lowest (2.4%) as compared to China (10.5%). The study also pointed out that high quality research output is only confined to few institutions even though there are large number of Universities, institutions, and National laboratories across the country. This suggested that the quality of research is heading on a declining path. Further, the Indian research publications in the top foreign journals of Science and Technology (including health sciences) is very low, similarly the quantum of Indian papers receiving high citation index is also very small. The sum total of the assessment of the study conducted by the National Institute of Science, Technology, and Development revealed that majority of the academic institutions and National laboratories in the country are lacking excellence in their research work. This should be a matter of great concern to the country.

Many years ago Jawaharlal Nehru, our first Prime Minister had said, "a University stands for humanism, for tolerance, for reason, for progress, for the adventure of ideas, and for the search for truth". He went on to say, "If universities discharge their duty adequately, then it is well with the nation and the people". Looking back, higher education institutions and Universities in the country have not adequately addressed to the visionary observations of one of the founding fathers of our nation. At the 98 th session of the Congress in 2011 at Chennai, the present Prime Minister observed that, "C. V. Raman won the Nobel Prize 80 years ago for discovering Raman Effect, but the instruments made using his principles are all imported even today". He posed a question to scientists, "Why is the translation of good science and research in to products so weak in our country?" At the Centenary session of the Congress held recently in Kolkata in January 2013, the government announced the policy document, "Science, Technology, and Innovation". Will it remain as one more policy document of the government, time will only tell as both higher education and professional education are facing serious contradictions within and outside the domains of education.

Innovation eco-system is an integrated approach for development. Innovation is something that generates value. Innovators must be challenged to produce solutions that our society needs. Innovative solutions or research with consequences (research bearing fruits for human or societal application) must be nurtured and rapidly applied. There are two key elements for building a successful innovation eco-system. The first and the foremost is the 'innovation culture', having people who can make a difference or role models in the system. Secondly, people with entrepreneurial capability. These individuals would successfully network both for exchange of knowledge (ideas) and business. Unfortunately, there is absence of both innovation culture and entrepreneurial approach in our educational institutions. We have not come out of 'Raj' mindset even after 65 years of independence.

  Healthcare indicators and pharmaceutical development Top

The global burden of disease study reports published in Lancet some years ago (1997 and 2005) and the most recent report of the World Health Organization (2011) indicate an alarming state of the health of Indian population. The disease burden, particularly that of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, obesity, heart attack, stroke, and cancer will be a greater threat to healthcare system in our country than the existing common disorders. The increasing population (more than 1.2 billion) would further enhance the disease burden of the nation. As the economic power of the middle class improves, there would be increased demand of quality medicines and healthcare services. These are going to add up to the new challenges.

In this backdrop, if one looks at the growth and performance of Indian pharmaceutical industry, it is gratifying that the pharmaceutical sector has achieved a phenomenal growth in recent years. India is considered as a strategic destination for clinical and pharmaceutical research and development work. A great part of the global outsourcing in healthcare industry is expected to be invested in India. Nearly 150 Indian Pharmaceutical companies have United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) approval to manufacture drugs (formulations) that would be sold in Western markets. There is a notion that every third pill that is consumed in the world is "Made in India!";

Many global players have set-up clinical research operations in India and more than 400 different types (Phase-I, II, III, and IV) of clinical trials are already underway in the country. The clinical trial business is up by 10% as these trials cost 44% less as compared to US-based trials. It is expected that 50,000 job opportunities will be created for clinical research operations in the coming years. The emerging markets which includes India, will account for nearly half of the growth in the global pharmaceutical industry. This growth is considered as "Advantage India".

But one of the predicaments in harnessing this 'Advantage India' is non-availability of specialized talent in niche areas of system biology, target or receptor based drug discovery science, clinical research, and healthcare delivery. The recent developments and amendments in Drugs Act should not deter from harnessing new opportunities. Instead, the Indian universities and institutions should address the ground realities of the profession. Time has come for institutions and universities to adopt new ways of teaching and learning by moving from rigid and inflexible mode to more need-based inter-disciplinary and flexible mode of learning. They must change their mindsets to promote innovation culture by creating an environment where young minds (people) with ideas and thinking out of box approaches could do innovative science (in pharmaceutical and related health sector). They must interact with industries and find partners to commercialize their inventions. The new discoveries must come out of Indian institutions and Universities which would meet the healthcare requirements of the nation. It is a tough call but there is an urgent need to make a beginning before it is too late.

  Adopting change today for a better future Top

The modern societies are constantly evolving with the revolutionary changes (discoveries or creative work) that are taking place in the field of science and technology and communication sciences. The economic growth of a nation depends on its inputs in science and technology. Every society needs to constantly accommodate these fast moving concepts in its national agenda and make avenue for adopting new ideas through education and training. Those who fail to respond to these dynamic challenges, they will be left behind. Therefore, the modern education is all about experimenting with new ideas and challenging the old ones. Education is about taking the younger minds to the frontiers of knowledge. Schools and higher education institutions should allow students to expand their thoughts and ideas, and individuality much the same way the universe expands. As teachers we should develop habits of questioning, because great ideas spring from questioning minds. We need to teach (train) teachers who just do not provide answers to students questions but inculcate in them the habit of asking right questions (inquisitiveness) and seeking answers all the time (life-long learners).

Building and motivating new generation of scientific talent have to be pursued with great vigor and imagination. A new model of eco-system has to be created wherein we move from rigid and closed environment to flexible and open mode with inter and cross-disciplinary approach. This will infuse new dynamism for fostering creativity amongst new generation of students and teachers (products of stressful school systems). The teachers have a great responsibility in creating a new work order and need to commit for bringing in the much desired change. Innovation should become a way of life.


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