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BW Businessworld

Learn From US Partners And Create An Entrepreneurial System In India: CEO, Sannam S4

"People say the number of patents In India is rising but I challenge the statistics and ask how much of it is then turned into wealth creation and employability", Adrian Mutton, Sannam S4

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Sannam S4 represents a strong number of US Institutions who are actively engaged with India and those engagements include course attracting students to come and study in the US. They also include faculty and student exchange and they include research collaborations.

Sannam S4 launched the US- India knowledge Exchange (USIKE) last summer in Washington DC and has now brought the initiative in New Delhi. One of the primary purposes of USIKE is helping translate what has been a very strong relationship between US institutions and US corporates in advancing the US economic and prosperity agenda to India. 

Adrian Mutton, Founder, and CEO of Sannam S4 along with Lakshmi Iyer, Executive Director and Head of Education at Sannam S4 talk to BW Businessworld in detail about the need for a partnership, creating employment through research and partnership with Indian universities.    

What is the purpose of this partnership between the US and India?

Adrian Mutton: Our view is that there are a number of opportunities to move the dial in India's economic and social agenda. There are two elements to that, prosperity agenda, economic agenda and then there are India's sustainable development goals as it recently restated at the UN in New York.

Indian government under Prime Minister Modi has a very strong focus on Make In India and we have seen some of the investment that has encouraged it, but we believe what is missing is the development of homegrown commercial intellectual property. 

If India maintains a Make In India only strategy, it will end up becoming a low-cost replacement to China which over time will see India overtaken by Africa or Latin America or other parts of Asia that have a young and low-cost workforce. 

India has the intellectual capacity, it has the right drivers from a demographic perspective, young population combined with PM’s Make In India campaign. We believe that the government should launch an R&D in India campaign such that all of this tremendous intellectual capacity that exists in India can be turned into commercial value. 

What we're advocating is learn from your US Partners how to use that brainpower in India. So then create the technology to create a new breakthrough here, and create an entrepreneurial ecosystem such that the owner is Indian.

How does the partnership augur for Indian and US students? And how does cross border partnership benefit both the countries?

Adrian MuttonFirstly what we are encouraging our US institutions to do is to build in a very strong employability agenda to their student education experience in the United States.

There are just over 2 lakh Indian students that will go to the US every year. They get a degree and have experience. Some of them will stay in the US and be a part of an industry in the US. But how do you ensure that the employability aspect is a key element of that student experience and that's something we are actively trying to encourage. 

On the flip side, if you do not bring US students to India at an early age and engage them here, they will not be a part of your growth story going forward and I believe one of the roles that we can play is to encourage US universities to bring more of their students here to have that experience. 

How important is marketing in higher education, will this partnership help solve the problem of students not being able to study in global Universities?

Lakshmi Iyer: This partnership is not just about sending Indian students; it's about helping cross-border collaborations to improve the indices of living.

India is a great laboratory because of the size of our population and every problem that we face is magnified. It will be really great if you can find a solution or fix some of the great challenges that humanity faces in terms of health, equity wealth creation, climate change, and sustainability. 

So, we are interested in the kind of fostering those kinds of linkages where there will be a real benefit to the population in India. So those are the larger goals that the knowledge exchange wants to focus on and keep the interest of our clientele on that because there are many problems to solve. 

Where did this idea of the need for this partnership come from?

Adrian Mutton: It is something that was driven by the lack of two governments or anyone else creating a formal platform for people to have these conversations. And so many of our clients and our partners in the US and institutions in India that we said, how do we engage and talk?

We've got these challenges we see these opportunities. We want to contribute more to India's Story. And how do we do that? And after a while of trying to find the right platforms, we spoke to the US Department of State we went out and we spoke to the Embassy of India and they were both incredibly supportive of us launching this initiative and despite them not being able to have some formal framework yet that we have encouraged, they have both participated in every single session. 

We believe that having their support will enable us to scale this up. And I think you'll see come to the other side of India's general election some very strong and positive statements from both governments.

And as I've suggested I'm very hopeful of a formal dialogue taking place the game between the two doable governments on higher education between the US and India. 

Can you talk about some of the skills in jobs that you seem to impart with India?

Adrian Mutton: Skill is a big part of our agenda. One of our pillars is around the role that universities can play with academic-industry linkages. And how do you turn research into employment and if you don't own the outputs of that research, you are not in control of the employment?

What we are encouraging the US universities is to help Indian institutions understand how to take research and commercialize it, bringing in the Indian companies to collaborate and show how to take academic brilliance and research and turn it into intellectual property.

That directly creates jobs. If you do not own the intellectual property and not commercializing the intellectual property in the country, you might get the jobs if you're lucky, but if you own it, you are a hundred percent in control of creating jobs. And that is the big missing part of the Make In India campaign.

Skill India is great, Study In India is great, but where is the research and development in India? Where the commercialization, Intellectual Property in India program, and those are two initiatives that I would encourage the Modi government to take a serious look at the other side of the election. 

What will be your pitch to the Indian universities to partner with USIKE? 

We've already partnered with a number of Indian institutions and what we are going to do is create relationships such that Indian institutions can learn how research transfers into a commercial environment. What does that look like? How do you engage with companies? How do you then create opportunities for funding that keeps the universities at the heart of a commercial agenda and that's typically not being the case in India.

The number of patents that are issued in India per population is woefully low. People do comment that that number is rising but then I challenge the statistics and say well how much of that patent filing is then turned into wealth creation and employability. It's fine filing patents, but if they don't lead to jobs and they don't lead to economic Prosperity, they're just a glorified certificate for research and really got to take that next step.