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24 July, 2008

India is rapidly becoming global R and D hub: research finding

The following is a message from researcher Vivek Wadhwa (, announcing the release of his findings on Indian industry. The message was addressed Prof. Sreenath Sreenivasan, who circulated it in SAJA Forum.
Sree, many have been predicting the demise of Indian industry. They say that rising salaries, poor infrastructure, a weak education, etc. will cause Indian industry to implode, that the Indian IT industry was just a flash in the pan.

Yet my research at Duke and Harvard has shown the opposite -- that despite all the obstacles, India is rapidly becoming a global R&D hub. I used to be a tech CEO, and was one of the first to outsource R&D do India. What I saw the Indian It industry achieve in 15 years is happening in half the time in an assortment of industries. Its scientists are doing sophisticated drug discovery for Big Pharma, its engineers are designing key components of jetliners for Boeing and Airbus, helping to design automobile bodies, dashboards, and power trains for Detroit vehicle manufacturers, and are developing next-generation networking solutions for companies like Cisco.

Indian companies are also developing innovative solutions for the Indian marketplace, such as the $2500 car produced by Tata.

My own research has shown that India is in poor shape with its higher
education - the country graduates less than 1000 PhD's in engineering --which is not even enough to staff the growing universities, let alone build an R&D machine.

So how is India doing all this?

Finding the answer has been an obsession for my team, for the last year. Kauffman Foundation, Duke and Harvard are releasing a report tomorrow, which solves this puzzle. The report is called " How the Disciple became the Guru: Is it time for the US to learn workforce development from former disciple India?". It shows how India's companies learned the best practices of Western companies and perfected these. Indian industry has developed a surrogate education system which can take workers with weak education and turn these into world class R&D specialists…

Imagine how far India has come that a prestigious foundation like Kauffman does such a press release saying it is time for the US to learn from India.

Kauffman is the "foundation for entrepreneurship" - they are
considered the guru's on US entrepreneurship, education and

For journalists, I have uploaded an interim version of the report here:

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