Infrastructure for Innovation Qasim Sheikh National ICT R&D Fund Funding for Innovation Focused R&D • Innovation is the driving engine for wealth generation, economic growth and value creation. • Creating a formal Infrastructure to foster innovation has challenged political entities through out the world. • There isn’t even an agreed upon definition of innovation that can become the starting point for designing a formal structure to foster and speedup innovation process. What is Innovation ? • “Incremental” innovation alleviates rate limiting factors from value chains. • A value chain is a network of services that add value to a given input. Wealth Generated by Innovation • • • • How important is the value chain; How important the rate limiting factor is; How well rate limiting factors are alleviated; At what price point are the rate limiting factors alleviated; • How long does it take to alleviate the rate limiting factor, the value chain may have shifted or its importance may have decreased by the time the rate limiting factor is alleviated. Progress Towards R&D Activities • Over last 18 months we have made significant progress towards nurturing an innovation centric R&D culture in ICT related disciplines in Pakistan. • We have – funded 30 R&D proposals with financial commitment of 440 million Rs. – a backlog of more than 50 R&D proposals with cumulative funding request of more than 1.8 billion Rs. Limitation • Capacity limitations in carrying out applied or fundamental R&D activities at par with international standards. • Nationally and internationally available funds lapse due to lack of capacity to generate and execute quality R&D proposals. • Proposal solicitation and evaluation process at National ICT R&D Fund shows: – Initial quality of proposals needs significant improvement – Proposal developers take a long time to incorporate requested improvements in the proposals A few examples • “The limits of my language are the limits of my world” • R&D efforts measured by papers published and impact factor do not necessarily lead to innovation. Innovation Centric Centers of Excellence • Create Centers of Excellence focused at Innovation in Thematic Initiatives. • How are these Centers of Excellence different than such centers of past? • Their first responsibility will be to identify, describe and disseminate information about – important present and future value chains – associated bottlenecks and rate limiting factors – research and development challenges pertaining to removing these bottlenecks. The Center of Excellence Concept • • Create knowledge, products, processes and services that extend state of the art in their discipline by alleviating rate limiting factors in current and future value chains; Develop infrastructure and capacity to train highly qualified human resource through course work, degree awarding programs and innovation centric R&D activities for the selected Thematic Initiative; Centers of Excellence must Deliver • The success of this initiative depends crucially on giving these Centers of Excellence clear and coherent goals. • R&D by definition is an expensive and a low yield activity • Select Thematic Initiatives • Create Centers of Excellence to take selected thematic initiatives forward. Criteria for Thematic Initiatives 1. Must present a vision that goes beyond that of a typical grant application for a research project; 2. Must be subject to clear and objective evaluation criteria; 3. Must impact lives of common citizens in long as well as short term by – improving productivity of current industrial base – creating new industries in the country; Criteria for Thematic Initiatives 4. They should be decomposable and amenable to incremental diagnosis, so as to allow changes within the process to achieve them; 5. They must be ambitious and visionary, but at the same time feasible within a predefined time frame – in the case of Pakistan a period of ten years is suggested; Suggestions for Thematic Initiatives • support sustainable yield enhancement in agriculture sector; • provide universal, sustainable health care through participation of private sector; • provide universal, high quality high school education through participation of private sector and e-learning; • enhance productivity in SMEs in Pakistan where most of the workforce is semi skilled or uneducated; • sustainable traditional and alternative energy production and distribution systems; Salient Feature • • Centers of excellence are chartered to promote innovation through focusing on value chains and removing rate limiting factors. Decouple the process of awarding Center of Excellence from the process of selecting Thematic Initiative. Bottom up approach • • • Creation of Centers of Excellence based on selected Thematic Initiative is a top down approach. We should use wisdom of the crowds to create “Innopedia” by copying the concept of Wikipedia. Innopedia will be focused on describing value chains and rate limiting factors A few examples • What are the technical rate limiting factors in – Synthetic photosynthesis – Mobile video on demand; Video based searching; – E-learning – Developing pest resistant grain varieties – Developing fast foods that taste good but do not lead to an epidemic of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes • Once Innopedia reaches a level of maturity like Wikipedia we can really let process of innovation loose.