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ISA Vision Summit 2011: Nanotech likely to catch us all unaware!

February 21, 2011

Dr. Bobby Mitra speaking at the ISA Vision Summit 2011.

Dr. Bobby Mitra speaking at the ISA Vision Summit 2011.

“The electronics industry in India, touching $60 billion, has now thrown up a challenge,” said Dr. N. Seshagiri, former director-general, National Informatics Centre (NIC), chief guest at the 6th ISA Vision Summit, which kicked off today in Bangalore. “This decade can see many disruptions. One innovation likely to catch all of us unaware is nanotech!”

According to Dr. Seshagiri, nanotech devices have been valued at $1.6 trillion by 2013.  Electronics, especially nano-electronics is yet another opportunity to energize the Indian economy in this and the next decade.”

He added that India isn’t lagging behind as about 30 Indian companies had exported goods worth a few billion dollars. Nanotech isn’t far away, as there can’t be a better enabler than microtech and nanotech. The entry cost to nanotech is relatively low. One can find companies from China and India emerging.

What should India do with electronics hardware and IT? We don’t expect the Indian software industry to be interested in nanotech. We need to start learning new electronics from now on.

More and more R&D should now come to India and China. Our patent laws are neither bad nor good. There is now a need to work out a win-win situation. To make that happen, the Indian government’s patent policies need to change.

Dr. Seshagiri added: “We must build awareness among the Indian ESDM companies and also within the government. The ISA would do well to bring the Indian government into its shelter.”

Dr, Ajay Kumar, joint secretary, Department of IT, Government of India, said that the ISA Vison Summit 2011 focuses on a very relevant theme. While India is fairly well known in software, it lacks in electronics system and manufacturing. As per the task force in 2009, demand for electronic systems is projected to grow from $45 billion to $400 billion. At the current rate, approxiately $104 million can be  manufactured here and the rest has to be taken care of by imports. He added: “Electronic system design and manufacturing can propel the industry toward energy efficiency. The time has come to show India’s might.”

Dr. Kumar said: “The government recognizes the opportunity of converting India into a global destination for electronic hardware manufacturing. The government is in the process of developing various policy initiatives, which would help realize this goal in close partnership with the industry, academia and other stakeholders. The attempt is that the policies in this regard would attempt to address disability costs related to manufacturing in India, viz-a-viz other competing destinations like China and Korea.”

He added: “Electronic system design and manufacturing can propel the industry toward energy efficiency. The time has come to show India’s might.” Although SIPS was announced back in 2007, the response was lukewarm. It is better if there are clusters and parts. A number of companies with discrete components are SMEs.

He said that a modified SIPS has now been given to the government by a body headed by Ajai Chowdhury. With software as a strength, it is possible for India to create a leadership. There is also a need that the requirement is met by several mini stories, such as healthcare, automotive, etc. “We may have to look at out-of-the-box solutions.” Dr. Kumar added.

According to him, the manufacturing sector suffers from a confidence deficit. A part of the software successes have been due to a brand developed. He said: “We have the advantage of a great brand, and need to make use of it in the electronics manufacturing sector. The government recognizes the need to convert Indian into a global destination.”

Rt. Hon. Patricia Hewitt. recalled how she had the honour of meeting Sachin Pilot,  Minister of State in the Ministry of Communications and Technology, and Poornima Shenoy. Like India, the UK or Britain is one of the leaders in semicon.

She said: “Almost all mobile chips have an ARM chip. We also have T&M Instruments partnering with EmTek. A new ecology of Internet devices will change the communication lines. The other sector – energy – will also be affected. There is the extraordinary potential of new, intelligent devices of off-grid and on-grid electricity. We have complimentary strengths. These new devices need networks. In Britain, we have one of the most advanced networks. The UKIBC is working very closely with ISA to create platforms, where our product companies can share experiences and leverage each other strengths for mutual benefit.””

Dr. Bobby Mitra, chairman, ISA, remarked: “Over the past few years, we have seen the ISA focusing on ESDM, which can bring great opportunities. India has been seeing impressive growth across areas such as industrial, automotive, healthcare, telecom, consumer, etc.”

He added: “For example, in the industrial sector, as the migration is happening from the electromechanical to the electronics world, the efficiency and growth can be huge. Co-innovation can have a huge impact. The second area that the ISA is focused on is energy-efficiency. We believe that energy efficiency is a big area. The final area is electronics. In areas such as healthcare, education, etc., it can play a huge part in making them accessible and innovative.”

Earlier, Poornima Shenoy, president, ISA, welcomed the dignitaries and said that Vision Summit is now a flagship event. The Summit was started six years ago, just like the ISA. In 2005, the ISA had 33 members. Today, it has over 150 members. The ISA has been working as a knowledge partner with the Indian government, providing relevant data points. She added that the DIT was looking at SIPS II, where ISA had made a few recommendations.

The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh’s message was also read out, which stated: “The Prime Minister is glad to know that the Vision Summit is being organized. The ESDM industry has a major role in creating awareness and drive the technology vision, and make a difference to people’s lives.”

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