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A Huge Innovation And Design Conference In India.

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on December 7, 2007

I’m off to India next week to give a keynote speech to the CII-NID (Confederation of Indian Industries—National Institute of Design) Conference. China, of course, has been sharply increasing its investment in design and innovation for some time and now India is beginning to put resources into them. China has made innovation central to its next Five Year Plan and India recently passed a National Design Policy.

In terms of broad statistics, China leads India. China has about 300 design colleges (most are traditional art schools but about a dozen are very sophisticated), while India has 10. There are about 240 design programs in China and about a dozen in India. China churns out 30,000 to 100,000 design grads a year, depending on your definition. India graduates a fraction of that. I’d say that in terms of public policy, India is about ten years behind China at this point, but beginning to close the design gap.

Yet the CEO of Infosys, Nandan Nilekani and the CEO of Wipro, Azim Premji have both showed me that in terms of business model innovation, India is probably ahead of China. Taking advantage of its enormous Bottom of The Pyramid base of poor people (got that—“taking advantage” and not bemoaning the fact), India has redesigned the hospital. The Aravind Hospital System is probably the most productive and low-cost in the world thanks redesigning the patient and doctor experience.

And Cavin Kare, an Indian company, changed the high-volume, low-price business model, withits single-serve sachets for shampoo. Unilver and P&G copied the model and are doing super in India. Ditto for cell phones—Indian telecom companies. has designed a way for the poorest of people to buy services at a penny a minute, connecting farmers to the marketplace and people to the larger world.

So I’m hoping to learn a lot while in Bangalore.

Reader Comments

Elif Memisoglu

December 8, 2007 12:21 PM

If this happens next year I want to go!!!!!


December 13, 2007 8:08 AM

Think about this on the plane Bruce...

India needs to think about innovating away from its stifling caste system of the past. This is why it is far behind China in many industries.

China's historical focus on education rigor means a mere farmer can become a general manager while the farmer in India is relegated to that role forever.

Climate has a lot to do with India's low productivity. Indians are notoriously perceived as lazy when it is the heat that is to blame.

India = IT/Software
China = IT/Software and everything else


December 18, 2007 11:14 AM

Steve, where did you get your information from? I wonder how chinese companies can perform well if all their mangers are dressed up farmers! As far as India is concerned, there are excellent opportunities for everyone. My case itself is an example. My father is a farmer. But I am an electronics engineer and my brother is a software engineer. We have got good schools and universities which helped us to get good quality eduaction. Millions of families in India are going through the kind of transformation which my family has gone through. BTW, if you are so proud of China, why are you not bold enough publish your own name while shouting Chinese propaganda?

Puneet Thariani

January 7, 2008 6:54 AM

I agree with Sanjay, Indians are way ahead of Chinese in terms of intellectual wealth. Its not the pricing that gets projects to India, its the sincrerity, hardwork and committment unlike China where price is the only criteria.
Its about time for the West to know that there is "a huge" difference in cheap "chinese" work and quality work.

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Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

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