Bengaluru: Infosys co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan who is also the chairman of Axilor Ventures and a trustee at the Infosys Science Foundation is a thought leader in technology and innovation. In an interaction with Mint he talks about funding for science and research, gaps, and the role startups can play. Edited excerpts:
How good or bad is the present framework for funding in science and research?
Funding is certainly lower than what it is should be in terms of quality and quantity. However, there is clearly a transition to value, in the chain of a product or a service that we use today. And that value means shifting to information, knowledge, data, algorithms, software, for which we need to do our own research. The government in science and research has gradually increased. In the Union Budget this year, the government spoke about National Research Foundation and increasing the funding to ₹20,000 crore which would approximately be 1% of the GDP. We need to increase our private funding from 0.1% of GDP currently to 1.5% of GDP in a stepwise manner.
Which technology areas need to be worked upon?
We need to work on the technologies that are going to impact us in next 20-30 years – all the way from artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to internet of things (IoT). We also need to look at genomics, DNA sequencing, 3D printing and nano technology among others. There are a number of new areas emerging at this point of time.
How significant is the role of startups in science and research?
Startups play a big role in bringing new technologies into the market. Innovation starts with research, which helps you make a new product or find a solution to an existing problem. If the product has utility or the solution is sustainable, you get funding by external investors and can build your own startup.
Sample this: Five years ago, just a few startups came up with electric vehicles while the automotive giants relied on their existing technology. Startups typically bring out products first in the market before they become big or get acquired.
What are the ways to bridge the gaps in science and research?
To compete with the best in the world, we need to improve on both the quality and quantity of research. We must look at ways to increase the number of ‘world class’ institutes.