Demystifying Artificial Intelligence

(Article By Rajeev Surana, Founder & CEO, SCPL)

AI is the new buzz word all around but a lot of us wonder what it really means and how can one use it in our lives. AI or Artificial Intelligence as it is called is making machines and computing systems more intelligent and cognitive. We all love using virtual assistants such as Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant to perform tasks such as playing your favorite music or switching on home lighting when the sun is about to set and is a good example of how AI is influencing our lives.

Google is working on a new project, Google Next to read our minds and predict what we need making our lives easier and we all need it in today’s connected and complex world. AI is automating a lot of manual processes right from cleaning our homes with robots to using it in insurance claims processing or detecting fraud.  Cognitive technologies is an example of AI and we are moving to an era of ‘We are already taken care of your needs’ versus ‘How can we help you’?

It also has a significant impact in life sciences research since a lot of data is generated and there is a need to make sense of the same by analyzing the patterns and trends and gathering insights which are meaningful and actionable. Another area where AI adds significant value is customer relationship management (CRM) as it improves customer engagement, helps in quickly finding solutions and serving. A level customers more efficiently. So we can imagine a world where we are served everything on a platter but I hope we don’t lose the human touch and interactions which are so central to our existence and our source of happiness.

GRANT FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY SECTOR BY MINISTRY OF RENEWABLE ENERGY, GOVT OF INDIA

(Article By Chayan Sen, Funding Associate, SCPL)

Renewable Energy Research and Technology Development (RETD) Programme of the Ministry  of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) for implementation during the period 2017-18 to 2019- 20 at a total cost of Rs. 175.87 crore. The scheme will continue till March 31st, 2021 The  scheme aims at scaling up R&D effort for Renewable Energy Research and Technology  Development. The objective of the scheme is to support the R&D projects for technology development and demonstration in various areas of new and renewable energy such as solar  thermal systems, solar photovoltaic systems, biogas systems, waste to energy systems, wind  energy systems, hybrid systems, storage systems, hydrogen and fuel cells, geothermal, etc.  with the ultimate aim of increasing share of renewables in the energy mix in the country.

The  R&D efforts are expected to make industry competitive and renewable energy generation supply  self-sustainable/ profitable. The technology development and demonstration will be supported  for manufacture of new and renewable energy systems/ devices/ components for different  applications including transportation, portable and stationary applications for rural, urban,  industrial, and commercial sectors . 

The implementation mechanism of the programme would be R&D, Test Labs, Centres of  Excellence and Start Ups:

• The scheme will be implemented by R&D / academic institutions/ industries, etc. across  the country. Research Groups engaged in R&D/academic institutions, engineering  colleges (both public and private approved by government accredited body),industries,  other organizations, etc. engaged in R&D for promotion of new and renewable energy  will be supported for taking up research, development and demonstration projects for  technology development integrating innovation for continuous improvement of  technologies/systems/ process. However, technology demonstration will be taken up  either at implementing institutions or in the field at utility in the case of project taken up in  partnership with institutions/ industry/utility. 

• The scheme will be implemented in the form of projects with identified deliverables. The  project proposals will be invited in thrust areas of MNRE in place of normal submission  of project proposals by investigators, which will be done by the Ministry through its  website/ national dailies from time to time. The proposal will be submitted as per  prescribed format. The proposals should be supported with proper appraisal by a Project  Appraisal Committee taking 

• Project’s cost will involve project manpower, equipment, instrumentation, fabrication and  installation, performance evaluation, improvement in system, design, manpower, travel,  contingency, overhead charges for the implementing institutions, etc. as per policy and  guidelines of MNRE. Projects in partnership with industry will involve cost sharing with  them, up to 50% of the total cost. • For implementation of the project, the temporary manpower i.e. SRF, JRF and RA etc.  shall be hired in the R&D project based on their expertise/professional qualification in the RE  field depending upon availability. The hiring of the manpower will be purely on a temporary  basis with a condition that there will be no liability of such staff for confirmation by the government. The staff services shall discontinue immediately after the project duration  expires.

Demystifying Electric Vehicles: Zooming Towards A Sustainable Future

(By Sangharsh Kale, R&D Incentives Associate, SCPL)

Electric cars are powered by an electric motor rather than a traditional diesel or petrol motor. The electric motor itself is powered by rechargeable batteries which can be charged just like our mobile phones.

Electric vehicle(EVs) are fast, fun & efficient, and maintaining them is far simpler than a traditional motor vehicle as there is no internal combustion engine.

We are going to focus mainly on two types of EVs:

  1. All Electric Vehicles (AEVs) &
  2. Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs).

All Electric Vehicles (AEVs) are powered by a large traction battery pack which itself is charged by an electric wall outlet. Since it runs on electricity, the vehicle emits no exhaust, thus reducing the carbon footprint. Regenerative braking is used for all-electric cars, which recharges the battery for restoring some of the energy, normally lost when the brake is applied by a driver. This can make the car charge last longer, thus more sustainable.

Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) combine an electric motor and a large rechargeable battery with a petrol or diesel engine. PHEVs can be plugged-in and recharged from an outlet, unlike traditional hybrids, enabling them to travel extended distances using only electricity. The conventional engine switches on when the battery is emptied, and the car acts as a conventional, non-plug-in hybrid.

The availability & widespread usage of these cars are in the not-so-distant future. Governments all around the world are offering incentives to Research & Development efforts of EV manufacturing units, as well as the people purchasing such vehicles. In India, the government has already implemented schemes to promote manufacturing of EVs & yes, we are as excited as you are to get our hands on these vehicles!

Why Branding Matters More Than Ever?

(Article by Rajesh Ravindranathan, Head HR & Finance, SCPL)

As the Covid-19 epidemic breaks mayhem in the retail industry, there are some questions to be answered, namely: will businesses risk and increase their spending on branding in the aftermath of such a devastating crisis?

Advertising and promotions are what a product describes about itself to consumers. It is a cognizant effort by a brand to endorse its products and services. Advertising is transactional and can be bought and sold. Branding, on the other hand, is a very diverse concept. Branding is what others reflect about you through a comprehensive range of feedbacks. It’s not about what a brand essentially does or doesn’t do. Branding reveals the true charisma of a business and it cannot be bought or sold like advertising.

In the face of rising concern about the Covid pandemic and the stringent need to lock down places of gathering, including retail stores, consumers won’t start exploring brands they hope they can trust. They will only cherry-pick brands they before now believed & they can trust based on previous buying experience. They won’t look out new brands but turn to those in which they already have trust. So, the time to emphasize on branding is not Pre-Covid-19 or after Covid-19. Every company is by now branding itself every day through every choice it makes. “Branding is ultimately not what you say but who you choose to be”

Ask any successful corporate establishment, and they’ll possibly tell you that branding is one of the most vital things for your business. Branding has become a vital aspect of building a successful business model. Design plays a noteworthy role in outlining a brand. Design and branding delivers a visual identity, and can help conjure a positive linking to your brand. For large businesses, financial planning for branding and design can simply run into millions of Rupees. The influence of a good design strategy in branding is irrefutable, and it can help to build confidence and trustworthiness with prospective customers.

Thanks to all the present day online platforms and other modern forms of communication, potential clients have a lot more options to choose from a vast array of branded items as consumers will not always remember a company’s name or website, but they will remember a decent logo, a catchy idiom or a distinctive style. Robust branding techniques will make a company easily distinguishable and searchable.

Consumers don’t have connections with products or companies, but with brands and what they point toward. Usually when a person buys a product, he or she will buy the promise it necessitates more than its features. Building a strong brand with good values and morals which people can relate to will not only provide a sturdier presence in the market but also make the consumers loyal to the company.

To conclude, the transformation matters at present more than ever because when the Covid-19 crisis in due course ends, consumers won’t search for new brands in the market, they will select brands they already know based on their previous logical actions.

Overview of R&D Funding In Life Science Sector In India

(Article By Chayan Sen, Funding Associate, SCPL)

The public investment in Research and Development as a fraction of GDP has remained constant for the  last two years in India. The growth in R&D expenditure should correspond in proportion to the economic  growth and should be targeted to reach at least 2 percent of GDP by 2022, according to the EAC-PM.  India’s public investment in R & D remained constant around 0.6 percent to 0.7 percent of GDP which is  below major countries such as USA(2.8 percent), China (2.1 Percent), Israel (4.1 Percent) and South Korea (4.2 Percent).

To ensure that India leaps into a leadership role in innovation and industrial R&D, the government has  brought in lots of Grant funding programs to encourage Research and Development in the country.  Funding agencies are Govt. or Non-govt. bodies providing monetary grants for scientific research areas such as Science and Technology, Social sciences, etc. In India various funding agencies are available which  provide grants for research in a variety of fields. These agencies conduct research schemes to promote  the research in India in science and/or medical stream and provide a grant for research. Potential  research projects are evaluated and only the most promising receive funding. Most research funding comes from two  major sources, corporations (through research and development departments) and government  (primarily carried out through universities and specialized government agencies). Some small amounts  of scientific research are carried out (or funded) by charitable foundations, especially in relation to developing cures for diseases such as cancer, malaria, and AIDS.

Life Science Sector is the top priority and is in the forefront. Many schemes and grants are released by  the government focusing on this sector. There are some major gaps that have been highlighted by COVID 19 where we need to be better prepared. Life sciences companies and the healthcare sector in general,  are under pressure to increase R&D productivity in therapies and drugs, regardless of whether they are  traditional pharma, med-tech, or new entrants focused on consumer health. Whether it is the  manufacture of drugs, heart monitors, or delivery of digital health platforms the common thread for life  sciences companies is to accelerate digital transformation to drive innovation.

Some major funding agencies in life science sector are: 

❖ Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) 

❖ Department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH)

❖ Department of Biotechnology (DBT) 

❖ Department of Science and Technology (DST) 

❖ Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) 

❖ Industry Innovation Program on Medical Electronics (IIPME) 

❖ Global Innovation and Technology Alliance (GITA) 

❖ Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC)

❖ Department of Pharmaceuticals  

The companies or institutions in the Life Science and Health Care sector should be ready to grab the funding opportunities and try and bring their research and innovation in the forefront. The organizations should  be clear on their research objectives and goals before applying for funding as because the evaluation  process for approval of grants is very informative and detailed thus one should be clear with the  research goals and other details pertaining to the research so that there is no insufficiency of  information during the evaluation process.

Why Is It Important To Invest In R&D?

(Article by Sangharsh Kale. Sangharsh is a management graduate from Mumbai who joined SCPL as an intern and has graduated as the R&D Incentives Associate.)

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected economies all around the world adversely. Supply chain has been disrupted due to regional lockdowns owing to the pandemic. India is still not able to fully recover from the pandemic.

Keeping this is mind the government has come up with “Aatmanirbhar Bharat” initiative which translates to Self-Reliant India. This requires companies to make investments in Research & Development for manufacturing locally.

Research & Development (R&D) in most companies is scattered & is normally a part of their production or QC department. Public listed companies are mandated to have a dedicated R&D set up that supports new development & addresses problems of the customers, if any.

We at Scinnovation Consultants help companies to streamline R&D set-up so that the above mentioned issues are dealt with optimally. DSIR Recognition certification is a great way to incentivize the management to focus on R&D it also is a hallmark of technical prowess. Tech is the new mantra & about 25% of S&P Index, which tracks USA economy comprises of tech stocks & to develop tech companies need to invest in R&D in a disciplined manner.

R&D SCHEME BY THE GUJARAT GOVERNMENT

(Article By Chayan Sen, Funding Associate, SCPL)

R & D is one of the major keys to future growth and is of vital Importance to compete at the global level. To encourage companies to keep up with technological advancement, various State Governments are introducing funding schemes to promote R & D by the companies or Institutions to boost continuous innovation that would contribute to a larger vision of the state. The Industry and Mines Department of Gujarat introduced “The Gujarat Industrial Policy 2020” , which is a scheme for assistance of Research and Development activities. This will give a boost to the companies and Institutions to undertake research work, disseminate proven technology and strengthen existing laboratories. This policy gives significant opportunity to encourage and transform Gujarat into a hub of Research and Development in India. This scheme will remain operational for five years i.e 7th August 2020 to 6th August 2025. The scheme for assistance of Research and Development activities has been segregated into four parts :

  • Scheme  1: This is to provide assistance to establish Research and Development/Product Development Centre , the major activities under this scheme is to setup or establish research and development centres or Product Development Centres.
  • Scheme 2: Assistance for contract/sponsored research work. 
  • Scheme 3 : Assistance to R&D institutions/laboratories set up by the State Government or Government of India, the major activities under the scheme will be setting up new laboratories as well as strengthening existing laboratories.
  • Scheme 4: Assistance to Industrial association for establishment of R&D laboratories, the major activities under the scheme is setting up new Research and Development laboratories with all necessary infrastructure and facilities.

DSIR Recognition for Compliance in Seed Industry

The Covid-19 Pandemic has rocked the world’s economies. India was hit the hardest with a 23.9% dip in GDP numbers. Trade, hotels, transport & communication saw a 47% dip, manufacturing shrank 39.3%, while construction took a 50.3% hit. The lone bright spot was agricultural sector, growing at 3.4% and that is what we are going to talk about today.

Indian seed industry is one of the most mature and vibrant one in the world currently occupying the 6th position with nearly 9000 Crore turnover. During the past 5 years the Indian Seed Industry has been growing at a CAGR of 12% compared to global growth of 6-7%. With such growth prospects seed companies are increasingly investing in Research & Development.

In order to thrive in the competitive market that the seed industry is, companies have to constantly innovate with newer seed varieties, which is one of major reason why seed companies do R&D. To mass produce these new varieties of seed the company has to be approved by the concerned State or Central seed authority or the National Seed Board. When these companies go to the National Seed Board for approval, one of things they ask is the DSIR Recognition certificate as part of their compliance.

We at Scinnovation Consultants will help your company get DSIR Recognition for your Research & Development efforts. Having worked with multiple seed companies we have developed expertise in the area. Scinnovation Consultants has a 100% track record in terms of getting the DSIR Recognition.

For any inquiry please contact Mr. Rajesh Ravindranathan, Client Acquisition Specialist at letstalk@scinnovation.in.

Design, Develop & Make in India

We have been hearing about Make in India from Govt. for a long time but never have the intent been more obvious as seen in the updated public procurement policy released on 04th June 2020 released by Ministry of Industry & Commerce available here

One of the policy change is that if the lowest bidder L1 is not a local manufacturer then L1 will be given 50% of the order and the lowest bidder amongst local manufacturers will be given an opportunity to match the price L1 to take remaining 50% of the order. 

But how can you “Make in India” if we do not Design & Develop in India, in short R&D has to be carried out in India. So we have a great opportunity to create an ecosystem in India whereby we create indigenous technologies and then manufacture for India and global markets.

One can already see movement in the manufacturing of high-end mobile phones in India and the move to make medical devices in India at a much lower cost than importing the same.

The latest example is the Govt. of India giving new orders to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for producing sophisticated aircraft for Indian Air Force (IAF) in a sign of indigenous manufacturing of defence technologies.
These examples are not limited to larger companies or Govt. enterprises but SMEs who are now aiming to challenge China’s supremacy in sophisticated technology areas such as flexible electronics which is the future with applications such as folding mobile phones recently showcased by Samsung.

All this will provide a great boost to R&D in India as also Industry-Academia partnership and an opportunity to develop products for the world.
For companies looking at structuring their R&D operations or providing it with necessary focus is to get the R&D facility certified by Dept. of Scientific & Industrial Research (DSIR) which is the sole authority to grant certification to organisations with R&D activities in India.

The certification not only recognises the effort of one’s company focused on R&D but also provides tax benefits and access to Govt. funding and benefit while bidding for tenders.
It is time to think of technology holistically with the involvement of senior management which is a must to make any R&D effort successful.

It is time to prove that India can be the ‘intellectual capital of the world’ for which we have to start designing, developing and making in India.

Keywords: Make in India, DSIR, flexible electronics, intellectual capital, technology

Budget 2020 Expectations for Research & Development in India

The Government of India is all set to table its Union Budget on 1st Feb, 2020 in the Parliament. It is anticipated that, a bold step will be taken towards reviving the economy through this budget like increase in 80-C, Cap on deductions & rise in tax exemption limit for the citizens. As we are here to discuss our expectations from the government to promote R&D in India, we will also analyze what has been done earlier and what should be done now to promote R&D in India. 

In its previous budget the Government of India reduced the corporate tax rate to 22% (plus surcharge & cess) from 30% for all the existing companies which was a tactical move with a catch. 

The Department of Scientific & Industrial Research (DSIR) offers manufacturing companies, tax exemptions up to 150% for expenses incurred on R&D in their respective field. This exemption let companies to spend more money in their R&D and helps in innovating new technology, product development & related processes. 

The government lowered the corporate tax rate to 22% with a specific clause which says that companies availing any other tax incentives would have to relinquish those including tax exemption Under Section 35 (2AB) for research purposes i.e. R&D. 

This is seen as a major obstacle for companies who are engaged in research work as the new section under 115 BAA excludes availing tax concession under section 35 (2AB) which comprises of expending capital as well as operating expenditure for scientific research at 150% which excludes land and building. In effect, if a company decides to avail lower corporate tax rate at 22% then they cannot claim benefits under section 35 (2AB) for both capex and there is a specific clause on the tax exemption U/S 35(2AB) which will effectively lower the current rate of 150% to 100% by April, 2020. 

Mr. Rajeev Surana, Founder of Scinnovation Consultants recently met Prof. K. Vijay Raghavan, Principal Scientific Officer with apprehensions he had with the specific clause and the way DSIR is functioning. Prof. K. Vijay Raghavan requested SCPL to submit a report on the same. SCPL conducted a survey by gathering opinions from the top people from the Indian industry setup. The results of the survey clearly points to the government to take steps to invest in R&D. 

A CEO of a large pharmaceutical company said “Government should not treat Corporate Tax and Research Incentives in the same way, rather offer additional incentives for doing state of the art research” 

Another R&D Head from Automobile Industry suggested increasing the rate of tax exemption from 150% to 200% 

Having said, we presume the government takes promising measures to promote “Make in India” initiative by providing incentives to companies for innovation in India through research.