09.07.2019

Hanumanthu Purushotham: "Our visit will contribute to strengthening Spain-India relations"

National Research Development Corporation (NRDC)

Hanumanthu Purushotam has been Chairman and Managing Director of the NRDC since January 2015. A public sector enterprise functioning under the auspices of the Ministry of Science and Technology of the Government of India, the NRDC offers innovative technologies to entrepreneurs and startups. A chemical engineer by trade, Purushotam has 35 years of experience in R&D, innovation promotion, intellectual property rights, incubation, business initiatives and startups.

What is NRDC’s main purpose?

The National Research Development Corporation (NRDC) is a public sector enterprise under the auspices of the Ministry of Science and Technology of the Government of India. It was established in 1953 with the objective of promoting, developing and marketing technologies developed in India, in particular those emanating from publicly funded research organisations, universities and so on, along with industry, entrepreneurs, startups and consolidated companies.

Does it have an international branch?

Many of our activities are focused on India, but we also support less developed countries in Africa and South-East Asia. We have licenced over a hundred technologies and services in 24 countries, most of them in Africa.

One of the biggest projects completed recently was in Ivory Coast, where we opened a technology demonstration centre showcasing low-level technologies that can be used in the country to generate products and services which until now had to be imported from neighbouring countries, such as ketchup, nails or napkins. Thanks to this training programme and incubation centre, more than 160 entrepreneurs set up SMEs. A similar project was recently completed in Ghana, a country that imports around 60% of the tomatoes it consumes from neighbouring countries. The Government of Ghana requested this technology transfer from us, and the Government of India started growing tomatoes in three different regions of Ghana, experimenting with 12 seed varieties in open fields and greenhouses. The aim was to identify which varieties were best suited to Ghanaian soil and weather conditions. Having identified two suitable varieties, we drafted a plan, trained farmers and scientists in best practices, and transferred technology to the sector and the Government.

In addition to this, we have also worked with the US, more specifically with the State of New Jersey: we are going to sign an agreement with the State Governor to promote entrepreneurship and startups there.

This platform will contribute to bilateral cooperation. Indian startups will be able to travel to New Jersey and establish themselves in the State, which will provide a soft-landing platform. Likewise, those entrepreneurs from New Jersey seeking to do business in India will have NRDC’s support to enter our market.

As you can see, we have been expanding NRDC’s operations in India and abroad. This visit to Spain will help us to create new partnerships, since it has allowed us to understand the country’s culture and socio-economic conditions. Soon, and thanks to this programme, the two countries will foster entrepreneurship and startups.

This is your first visit to Spain. What do you think of the Spanish entrepreneurial ecosystem?

The entrepreneurial and startup ecosystem is very vibrant; we have observed some of the largest ecosystems in Spain. Local administrations, along with the central government, have developed excellent infrastructure to foster entrepreneurship and startups.

Ultimately, our visit will contribute to strengthening relations between Indian and Spanish entrepreneurs and ecosystem players. I believe this will lead to a great partnership in the long run.

Are there any major differences between the ecosystems of the two countries?

I think there are some differences in some respects and slight similarities in others, which were especially evident when we visited some of the startups and incubators.

Local authorities and administrations are providing a large number of free services for new ventures. This is a very interesting step towards fostering entrepreneurship and new businesses. In India, many of these services are provided at a cost.

We have also identified the need to invest in initial funding and incubators. If incubators provide funds for startups, more of those will be attracted to such centres.

What aspects of the Leaders Programme 2019 did you find most interesting?

Some of the incubators and the science parks we visited were very interesting. I enjoyed the visit to Cidaut and the centres working on transport and energy, especially given the number of large corporations using their services.

The visit to the biotech company incubator was also great; there are centres of excellence in Spain promoting entrepreneurship and startups.

However, the best part was the Spain-India Council Foundation’s outstanding hospitality and coordination. I really appreciated the cooperation, care and hospitality shown by SICF’s team, and I’m grateful for the opportunity afforded to us to come, learn about and understand the Spanish entrepreneurship and startup ecosystem. Thank you.

Report: 7th Indian Leaders Programme 2019

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