Indians Account For Only 24% Of Total Patents Filed In India: Lagging Behind In Homegrown Innovation?

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Even though India is the world’s second-biggest internet market and is going through digitisation at a rapid pace, innovation is something that seems to have fallen short.

The view is derived from the data that discloses that nearly 3 out of every 4 patents filed in India over 13 years were done by foreigners who reside abroad. Shocking isn’t it?

Well, according to the data Department of Science & Technology aka DST complied last month for the latest Science & Technology Indicators (STI 2019-20), about 5.1 lakh patent applications were filed in India between 2005-06 and 2017-18. Out of that, a whopping 76% were filed by ‘foreigners resident abroad’ (as the government classifies them) and only 24% came from Indian citizens.

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Definitely a troubling sign, this pattern needs to be reversed as soon as possible. The silver lining here is that the equation does seem to be changing, albeit at a slow pace. 

Between the time period 2005-06 and 2009-10, only 18% of patents were filed by Indians. However, in the following five years the figure jumped to 24%. 

Another significant jump was observed in the next three years, between 2015 -16 to 2018-19 wherein the share of patent applications filed by Indians increased to 30%.

The increasing number of patents filed by Indians in the last 13 years indicate a trend of increasing awareness and importance of patent among indians.

On the other hand, when it comes to the patents filed by foreigners, it has been observed that close of 45% came from individuals or companies from the United States, Japan and Germany. The UK, France, Switzerland, Russia, the Netherlands and Italy also contributed in a hefty way by filing hundreds of applications.

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The United States, however, stands out among all other foreign countries as they filed 1.4 lakh patent applications in India and account for 27% of all applications filed between 2005-06 and 2018-19. 

Patents Filed By Indians: The Number Disappoints?

The answer to this is two-fold!

While on one hand, India definitely doesn’t lack talent, on the other hand, according to a senior defence scientist, R&D investments in the private sector, in particular, has started to improve only recently. 

Thus, this might be one of the primary reasons why Indians have not been able to lead in innovation in their own country itself for the past decade. The lack of a suitable and encouraging ecosystem surely will deter even the brightest talents. However, the increasing numbers in the last few years are a clear indication that scenario is definitely headed for a change.

According to a media report, from August, private sector R&D investments are growing at twice the rate when compared to public or government investment.

Former ISRO chairman K Kasturirangan who is currently spearheaded the new education policy believes that the country needs to focus more on improving research content at 900-odd universities.

When asked to comment about latest patent filing trends in India, he said that the need of the hour is to make sure pure research is being transformed into applied research which can then be further used in translational and industrial research. 

Unless this is something India can accomplish, it will be very hard for Indian citizens to come up with more innovative ideas and that in turn will automatically throw out of the window the probability of more patents popping up from homegrown talent.

All in all, it is well understood from this report that India needs to gear up and strive towards creating an environment which leads to the creation of an ecosystem which promotes innovation and products that can be patented. We will keep you updated on all future developments. Until then, stay tuned.

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