India's biggest challenges are its tax structure, education system and protection of intellectual property
THE WEEK|December 06, 2020
Israel has a solution for every country’s problems. Avi Jorisch attributes it to the Jewish state’s ability to innovate. The entrepreneur and the author of five books, including Thou Shalt Innovate: How Israeli Ingenuity Repairs the World (2018), lives in New York and had worked in the US departments of treasury and defence. He founded IMS, a merchant processing company, and was a key speaker at the Bengaluru Tech Summit on November 20. In an exclusive interview, Jorisch talks about how Israel achieved big and what India should do.
ABHINAV SINGH

Q/ What is innovation? How has Israel redefined the term?

A/ Israel has achieved remarkable, exponential growth over the past 72 years, and that is a testament to the country’s grit, determination and chutzpah. Even with all the challenges it has faced, the Jewish state has made amazing strides since 1948, not only in developing its sparse natural resources, but also in innovations that have benefited its people and others around the globe.

Industries and countries are looking to Israel to help them solve their challenges. Today, Israel has over 300 research and development centres owned by multinational companies, including Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Intel and Microsoft. China, India and the US now look to Israel to help solve their water needs. Universities around the world are creating joint innovation centres with Israel’s institutions in engineering, biology, physics and chemistry. Also, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and agriculture ventures are reaching out to Israel to help them cure the sick and feed the needy. The country is a beacon of hope, and its citizens are ready to help solve local and global challenges.

Q/ Israeli innovators are well funded. That is not the case in many other countries. What can be done to improve the situation in a country like India?

A/ Three of India’s biggest challenges are its tax structure, education system and protection of intellectual property. In addition, while it is one of the most generous countries in the world with R&D related tax incentives, it lags behind in R&D tax credits to support university and national lab research. Moreover, Indian governments generally encourage institutions to engage in traditional research rather than to commercialise innovations.

An Information Technology and Innovation Foundation study found that India spends far less than most other countries on primary and secondary schooling for its children: 084,978 ($1,249) per student. In contrast, Israel spends $5,792, Argentina $3,606 and Mexico $3,593. India ranks somewhere in the middle of the pack when it comes to universities, with 25 of the top 800 world-ranked institutions. However, only 15 per 1,00,000 people in the country are engaged in research, placing India in the bottom five in this category. Lastly, India ranks among the six countries with the lowest number of total research citations.

According to the Global Intellectual Property Center Index, which measures commitment to innovation through intellectual property protection efforts, in most years, India’s rankings are low.

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