Intellectual property in India: The new business currency

By Mandeep Baweja, Managing Director India, CPA Global

“For the first time in history, wealth can be created without having massive amounts of capital. For the first time in history, wealth can be created by the power of one’s mind: thoughts and ideas. It can be developed, monetised and distributed instantly across the globe. Intellectual Property has now become the new currency of business.”

This quote comes from Robert Smith, founder of private equity Firm Vista Equity Partners, and in it Smith has perfectly summed up business in the digital age.

Where capital, property and land were often key ingredients to generating wealth, Smith’s argument is that wealth will be created through the power of ideas and innovation in the future. This recognition presents an opportunity for people who might never have considered an entrepreneurial career, to consider the value of their ideas and reap the rewards of innovation. It is worth noting that the wider point Smith makes is not just relevant to individuals or companies, but entire countries.

Innovation in India

India has created a perfect storm for future growth. Ten years ago Indian programmers would have been excited to work for a large technology company outsourcing its development in the country. Now, many educated and qualified Indian nationals aspire to be the founders of a generation of companies that will drive technological and economic growth on their own terms.  India is becoming increasingly entrepreneurial and the Intellectual Property (IP) industry will play a huge role in making sure that those with the brightest ideas can monetise them, not only in India but globally.

The population of India is 1.3 billion people and this provides a huge home market for companies to exploit. There is a need for home grown innovation to both satisfy the aspirations of this growing middle class and also drive up the overall volume of innovation.

The government of India has been taking steps to support this shift. Digital India – a flagship government programme – will transform India into a digitally empowered society, and the Startup India initiative aims to nurture innovation and budding entrepreneurs.

A thriving IP industry

The innovative and entrepreneurial potential of India is further evidenced by IP data. Since 2002, the number of patents filed in the country has grown six-fold. In 2016 alone more than 45,000 patents were filed through the Indian patent system - an increase of 13% since 2010.

A CNBC report predicted by 2025 that India’s innovation growth rate could surpass that of Russia and, even China. A recently released IMF Economic Outlook reported that the Indian economy is expected to grow at an annual rate of 7.4% in 2018 - well above China’s at 6.6% - to secure it as the world’s fastest-growing economy in 2018.

Great ideas, and the hunger to execute them, are now as important as historical wealth. It is one of the reasons why I feel India is perfectly placed to harness the digital economy and stimulate economic growth. I expect that innovation and IP will be at the heart of this, but to achieve its full potential India needs to create a conducive environment for IP creation and enforcement, and learn from other nations such as the United States, China, and South Korea to create the right ecosystem for achieving its goals.