The Agricultural Revolution of India written by Sangharsh Kale

Farming and allied industries are the backbone of India’s economy. In modernizing agricultural practices, Artificial Intelligence (AI) will play a key role in achieving the objective of doubling farmers’ incomes by 2022.

Agriculture is also listed by India’s national AI strategy as one of the main   areas where AI can enable growth and greater inclusion. AI-enabled farming solutions help farmers improve crop productivity, monitor soil health, optimize the management  of pests and weeds,
manage irrigation, and help farmers to pay the best price. In line with the aspirations of the country, the Confederation of Indian  Industry (CII) is working to grow the agricultural sector. A main focus area  is  upgrading the technology quotient in agriculture.

Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare  Mr. Narendra Singh Tomar announced onNovember 6, 2020 that the Centre would soon  launch a ‘price information and market intelligence system’ powered by AI that will enable farmers to find out the
latest prices of different farm products in markets across the nation.

He said while announcing the plan, “We are developing a price mechanism. Through this process, even a person sitting in Badaun will know the prices prevailing in Kolkata market every day in the morning. This scheme is being built and very soon it will be launched.”

Several start-ups are now also committed to maintaining the agricultural sector through the AI system.  In Andhra Pradesh, a company is using AI to power a sowing app, leading to a higher crop yield per hectare. In addition, AI algorithms are being used to monitor crop and soil health, where AI-based analytical solutions are used to plan events like crop harvesting, pest control and fertilisation to optimise yields.

Selfmade entrepreneurs such as former IITians Mr. Taranjeet Singh Bhamra and Mr. Rajamanohar Somasundaram have recently been reported to have introduced an AI-powered
platform that helps farm producers, buyers, and end users. In order to remove subjectivity and bring transparency across the food  value chain, the platform facilitates instant quality assessment
and traceability linkages.

It is interesting to note that Mr. Jayesh Ranjan, Principal Secretary of the IT and Industries Department, announced that Telangana is focusing on artificial intelligence in  agriculture and has generated several data sets on reports on weather ,agricultural prices and the market yard position.

To sum it up the future of farming looks bright as AI is taking over the standard procedures.

 

Circular economies and Sustainability

The Circular Economy Trend : Are you in the know?

The Decade of Action

In 2019, the UN General-Secretary called on all sectors of society to mobilize a ‘decade of action’ to address the world’s biggest challenges extending from climate change, inequality, poverty and closing the finance gap. We are at the beginning of the ‘decade of action’ and we have just 10 years to cut emissions.  The COVID-19 pandemic has had a big impact on the 17 sustainable development goals and what started as a health crisis quickly evolved into human and socio-economic crisis. It is imperative that organizations and societies move towards aggressive transformations to address future potential risks.  This calls for an urgent and aggressive approach to deliver the 2030 agenda during the Decade of Action.  Among the growing trends towards sustainability in 2020, many organizations have turned to the circular economy approach.

Historical perspective

Kenneth Boulding, in 1966, raised awareness of an ‘open economy’ with unlimited input resources, in contrast with a closed economy.  Boulding’s work is often cited as the first presentation of a ‘circular economy’, even though he did not actually use the term.

In 1976, in a research report to the European Commission, Walter Stahel and Genevieve Reday outlined a vision of an economy in loops. 

In 2003, a report highlighted the benefits of transforming business models to a restorative, circular model.  This transformation has the capability of delivering savings worth$630 billion dollars to the EU manufacturing sector annually towards 2025.  This could result in stimulating economic activity, in areas of remanufacturing, refurbishment and product development.

Why is a circular economy important?

Described as a framework of thinking, a circular economy can contribute to meeting the COP21 Paris Agreement.  At the COP21 Paris Agreement, 195 countries signed up for emissions reduction commitments.  But these are not sufficient to limit global warming to 1.5C.  To achieve this ambition, it has been estimated that a reduction of 15 billion tonnes C02 per year has to be accomplished by 2030.  It was identified that circular economy strategies may secure emissions reductions that could bridge the gap by half.

What is a circular economy?

A circular economy is an economic system that aims at elimination waste and the continual use of resources.- Wiki

 Circular economies reduce the use of resource inputs and the creation of pollution, carbon emissions and waste. A circular economy moves away from a typical linear based industrial process, which basically encompasses the ‘take, make, dispose’ approach.  It takes insights from living systems, recognising that systems should work like organisms, converting nutrients that can be fed back into the cycle.

Walter Stahel, known as the founder father of sustainability, is known to have coined the term cradle to cradle. He went on to develop a closed loop approach to production processes, co-founding the Product-Life Institute in Geneva.  .

Circular economy in India

The Indian economy is at a stage where it is faced with evolving consumer trends, a rise in demand-supply constraints and an increase in stakeholder scrutiny.  Most business leaders are confronted by rapidly depleting natural resources and changing stakeholder expectations.  They are often left with challenges about the durability and sustainability of their business models.   Therefore, under these circumstances, a Circular Economy presents a window of opportunity for organisations to address the existing resource constraints and also to be a key trigger in bringing about change that would be beneficial to consumers and businesses alike. Research suggests that half a trillion dollars, worth of India’s GDP value is at risk by 2030, which can be preserved through the espousal of circular economies.

At the St Petersburg International Economic Forum , 2017, Narendra Modi said:

“Paris or no Paris, it is our conviction that we have no right to snatch from our future generations, their right to have a clean and beautiful earth. It is part of our thinking and for that reason we do not believe in exploitation of the nature. We people do not have the right to take more than necessary from nature.”

The Indian government has identified two crucial constituents of a circular economy, solar power and waste management. (India produces around 1.40 lakh tonnes of municipal solid waste)

It is estimated that a circular economy path adopted by India could bring in annual benefits of 40 lakh crores or approximately US$ 624 billion in 2050. The greenhouse emission would reduce by 44% along with significant reduction in congestion and pollution. –Knowledge Hub

As a circular economy adopts strategies in recycling and product life extension, many organisations are exploring viable opportunities in advocating a circular business model.

written by Sherral Joseph

References : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circular_economy,

https://www.sustainability.com/thinking/2020-sustainability-trends/
https://ficcices.in/pdf/FICCI-Accenture_Circular%20Economy%20Report_OptVer.pdf
https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/decade-of-action/
https://perspectives.se.com/blog-stream/2020-sustainability-trends-our-experts-top-ten

Title: The Future of Tax Deduction for Research & Development – written by Sangharsh Kale

The Department of Scientific & Industrial Research (DSIR) up until 31st March 2020,  offered manufacturing companies, tax exemptions  u/s 35 (2AB) of the Income Tax Act, 1961 up to 150% for expenses incurred on R&D in their respective field. This exemption would let companies spend more money in their R&D & helped in innovating new technology, product development & related processes.

On 1st April 2020, the Government of India phased down the tax exemption to 100% of the expense incurred on R&D. This decision has come as a significant blow affecting all major manufacturing companies involved in research & development. We at Scinnovation, are positive, that these exemptions wouldn’t be phased down any further.

Earlier to claim these tax deductions, a manufacturing company had to sign an agreement with DSIR for co-operation, a company had to fulfil certain conditions concerning the maintenance of accounts & audit thereof & furnishing of reports in a manner as may be prescribed by DSIR.

With the lowered tax exemption of 100%, the company is not mandated to enter into an agreement with DSIR to claim the tax exemption.

Although, we would recommend that a company trying to avail the tax exemption should apply for recognition as an in-house R&D centre by DSIR. By doing so, the company will drastically speed up the claim period.

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.

SUSTAINABILITY

Research, development and opportunities

Sustainability is a guiding influence for all of research areas. It is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. A sustainable program should not just be self-sufficient, but also self-reliant. The emphasis on sustainability of a program is to reduce the dependency on external support, ensure participation and
ownership of the community through their contribution and to adopt cost-effective approaches for success. A sustainable project is one which has to be well-managed by a skilled and trained community demonstrating leadership and vision. A sustainable project is possible when the community is involved from the day one of the intervention and a clear withdrawal strategy is placed by the organization providing the support. A sense of ownership should be integrated into the community so that they are able to manage the process willingly at some point. The respective role of the community and sustainability of the program is directly related. If the community is not involved and does not perceive that it has a stake in the success of the scheme, it will lose interest and fail to join it, thereby
leading to winding up of the scheme.

To pursue sustainability is to create and maintain the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony to support present and future generations. Sustainability research grants support the research and development a variety of methods, tools, guidance, and programs that further the application of sustainability within decision-making.

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.