Collaborations in science and technology will drive purpose-led innovation

The power of collaboration was highlighted during the pandemic when the healthcare sector leveraged it for a quick vaccine turnaround. Carrying it to a larger canvas will keep the passion for innovation burning

Updated: Feb 28, 2022 04:29:32 PM UTC
‘Affordable innovation’ is the need of the hour in India and we need to come together to enable this through industry, government, and academia collaboration of all kinds and by facilitating the growth of startups and entrepreneurs

Whether it’s the ancient mythical battle of Mahabharata or the global threat of the coronavirus pandemic, mighty battles have never been fought alone. It is the coming together of skills, ideas and resources that enable a combined victory over any challenge. The world today is on a quest to build a sustainable future by overcoming challenges such as climate change, inequalities in society, unemployment, access to education, and poverty. Science and technology have a great role to play in this. To truly make a difference, we need to come together for a collaborative approach of co-creation and co-innovation, leveraging science and technology. This is evident from how the world came together to solve one of humanity’s largest problems—Covid-19. So how can we make science and technology more inclusive to enable purpose-led innovation for a sustainable future?

Follow the Gen Z passion to ‘Go Green’ with technology It is important to skill today’s workforce to build a green economy because climate change is not limited to any sector—it affects everyone equally. We need to equip the young generation with the necessary skill sets in areas such as renewable energy and knowledge about climate change so that they can interweave the same in the solutions they create. There is a strong passion among Gen Z to protect the nature and we need to follow in those footsteps. This is visible from a recent survey, which shows that about 3/4th of the people surveyed were interested in a 'green job' that helps tackle climate change. At least 45 percent of those surveyed believed that working in the green economy will have a positive global impact. Recently, I came across an example of a group of young people who came up with a solution to turn non-recyclable plastic into building blocks fit for construction after years of research and development. They created patented machines for enabling this process using their engineering skills and awareness about climate change and green tech. This displays the impact of going green through the integration of creativity, science, technology, and engineering.

Leverage the power of industry, academia, and government collaboration
India is a country with a large youth population. While there is potential, there is a need to channel our skilling efforts. This will require collaboration between government, academia, and organisations. For instance, governments can identify the set of problems faced by a particular state, be it in healthcare or the development of sustainable cities. The academia and organisations can then step in to train the youth in the required areas and onboard them to create solutions for the problem areas. During the pandemic, these stakeholders collaborated to create solutions such as pandemic modelling tools, remote consultation apps, vaccination registration portals to enable a seamless vaccination process, the development of test kits, among others. This synergy now needs to move to the next level.

‘Affordable innovation’ is the need of the hour in India and we need to come together to enable this through industry, government, and academia collaboration of all kinds and by facilitating the growth of startups and entrepreneurs.

Building inclusiveness using digital technologies
Though the pandemic has been devastating, it has also driven the spread of digital technologies across the world. It has become an integral part of our everyday lives, and it needs to be leveraged further to unlock its full potential to create a sustainable future. Niche digital skills such as Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), metaverse, Web 3.0, NFT, blockchain can play a great bringing people together. For instance, the metaverse can create an immersive digital environment enabling virtual tourism, which in turn can reduce carbon footprint. Technologies such as AR, VR and metaverse can create more job opportunities for people with different abilities.

To make any progress on the mission to create a sustainable world, it is important to nurture an innovation mindset—which enables its people, including young children—to think freely and experiment. Our education systems should cultivate an environment for co-creation and co-innovation as it can be a driving force to mitigate challenges and enable economic success.

The writer is managing director and chief executive officer, Tech Mahindra.

The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.

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