Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDII)
Sanjay Pal, from the Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDII), specialises in cluster development. He manages the centre’s competitivity, growth and technology activities for clusters (C3GT) and provides technical and strategic services to cluster development organisations in India and abroad.
What is the current state of the innovation ecosystem in India?
The innovation ecosystem in India is very favourable at present since there is a large number of institutions created by the Government of India and the regional governments pushing the R&D agenda.
Some ten years ago, institutions were devoted mainly to research and were not overly concerned with marketing the results of said research. However, over the past few years, both the Government and the private sector have made significant progress regarding the marketing of technology.
Many institutions have been created to perform the task of marketing; scientists work on R&D and then other institutions, both public and private, help to market those new technologies.
We are successfully solving many social, environmental and heavy industry problems through this process. The Government is taking the lead in this scheme to support innovation and create the right academic, entrepreneurial and innovation framework in India.
What aspects of entrepreneurship and innovation can be taught? How does the EDII do it?
In the beginning, some 35 years ago, no-one thought that the entrepreneurial spirit could be “engineered” or that entrepreneurs could be made. Back then, people believed that individuals were either born entrepreneurs or they weren’t.
However, lots of experiments have been carried out in India and abroad by academics who claim that entrepreneurs can be made if entrepreneurship is fostered in individuals, and that successful entrepreneurs can indeed be created this way.
Therefore, EDII offers a two-year postgraduate programme with two specialisations: business creation and family business management. Over 80% of the students on the programme start their own business or expand the family business.
So it is entirely possible. We have also created a Business Entrepreneurship Programme, which has been implemented in India and abroad and is proving highly effective when it comes to training entrepreneurs.
EDII also offers entrepreneurship courses for children and young people. How do you measure the results of those initiatives?
Since they are designed for children and young people, they are not full-time programmes but a sort of summer courses. The main objective is to instil an entrepreneurial spirit. Schoolchildren can dream of becoming doctors, scientists or engineers, but also entrepreneurs.
This means that entrepreneurship can become a first choice rather than a last resort. Children start thinking about entrepreneurship. It’s about instilling the idea at a young age, when people begin to think about their future and their career. Why not? Entrepreneurship is one of the options they can consider in the future.
How do you think Spain is doing in this sector?
I think there are some similarities with India, but what I like the most is the fact that institutions, universities, R&D centres and companies (both startups and traditional ones) are working closely together.
There is a great network among all the stakeholders in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, which means that you can turn to institutions if you need technology, to universities if you need to improve any academic aspect and to the private sector if you need to market something. This network is really important, and there are strong ties in Spain in this area, which is an advantage when it comes to doing business in the country.
Nevertheless, India is catching up and there is a lot that can be done, many potential programmes involving visits to institutions, establishing partnerships, and so on. A lot can be done in the future between India and Spain.
How could the two countries collaborate?
I think collaboration in entrepreneurship is possible. Links can be created between Indian and Spanish companies to establish partnerships in the market and to transfer technology, knowledge and skills. Indian universities and institutions could also establish ties with Spanish universities and institutions.
So we can see there are a lot of opportunities for collaboration in all areas: education, R&D, entrepreneurship, the private sector, acceleration, innovation and so on.
In your opinion, what’s the best thing about the Indian Leaders Programme?
The programme is wonderfully well-designed: we have seen many things we can implement, such as the network of stakeholders in the entrepreneurship ecosystem I mentioned before.
In many developing countries, stakeholders are often not well connected to each other. This is an important issue that we have to address. Moreover, Spanish incubators and acceleration programmes are very advanced, and I think this could be replicated.
Meanwhile, what Spain can learn from collaborating with India is that we are remarkably good at promoting SMEs, especially those in craft and textile industries.
India is very good at fomenting clusters, understood as a grouping of companies manufacturing similar products in a specific geographical area. Cluster development is very important, and I think Spain could learn about this concept from us.