Entrepreneurship as a religion - Role of Infrastructure and Technology

In this next article of the series, we will explore the role of various infrastructure and technology elements. These elements are R&D institutions, transport and logistics, Information and Communication Technology, Intellectual Property, and Industry 4.0.

R&D institutions can and should play a major role in promoting and supporting new ventures by creating new technologies and products and providing the necessary knowledge and processes to commercialize the same. The engagement models must be refined, and periodic events should be conducted to build awareness among the entrepreneurs about the latest inventions and their market potential. But this would require adding a technology transfer function with appropriate staffing at each of these R&D institutions that can focus on promoting new technologies among the entrepreneurs.

Many entrepreneurs keep searching for ideas and find some from foreign research reports, which need to be customized to their local conditions. This is another big gap that the institutions could bridge by orchestrating a partnership or building on the existing research for customization. The leap from pure research to applied research is often huge and needs help from seasoned technologists and researchers that startups can ill afford. This is where policy interventions would be quite helpful with the necessary functional frameworks to facilitate entrepreneurship based on the latest inventions.

Transportation is another big area that startups are disrupting. However, transportation and logistics facilities are major enablers of trade and commerce in any economy. Their absence can cut off access to markets, particularly for fresh produce. Some remote places may have unique products and handicrafts marketed through the internet. Customers find these products, and shipping becomes a major challenge when they place an order. The internet has opened the world and created a borderless marketplace. But servicing the global market needs cost-effective logistics support. This is another possible area for aggregation. Last-mile connectivity continues to throw some challenges. While third-party logistics service providers have been doing a great job in most markets, there are still many untapped opportunities.

Information and Communication Technologies have transformed how we live and work, connecting the entire world. It has been influencing many new-age ventures and has opened many new doors to market opportunities that were only available after a while. Technology has always been an enabler of business. However, technology itself has become a business, making things easier for customers and improving the way they do their jobs. We have already seen the internet revolution, the cell phone revolution, and the data revolution. We have started seeing the AI revolution.  Many new opportunities are emerging to be leveraged by new ventures.

Intellectual property management has quickly emerged as a major area of concern and an opportunity for many businesses. From a tiny startup to a multi-national, IP management and protection have become strategic and a major risk to be carefully managed- both from internal and external threats.  The necessary policy and process frameworks are being discussed and put in place during the venture formation. Banks have also started accepting patents as collaterals for business loans, showing how important the IP can be for a new venture. Many countries have streamlined their patenting processes to ensure the timely awarding of patents. Startups are being offered fast-track solutions to hasten the filing and granting process. However, the long-drawn process of IP creation continues to be a concern. Even here, some government bodies and policies are supportive, ensuring that promising new ideas are nurtured into viable products.

In the wake of emerging technologies like AI and ML, Industry 4.0 has emerged as the new frontier.  New-generation technologies are expected to transform the industry as we know it, and major changes are expected in how we work and live. This has opened many opportunities for technology enablement and related services. Many new ventures are expected to emerge out of this transformation. Every industry would require integrators, implementors, support services, training, human-machine interface designers, and many more enablers to integrate technology and automation for sustainable competitive advantage. This is a huge upcoming opportunity for new ventures. Large-scale training and building capable people would be necessary to prepare the ground for these opportunities. This itself can spawn many new ventures.

As we have explored, infrastructure and technology offer many new venture opportunities. Many new ventures would be required to enable technology-driven operations, while many would be necessary to build the necessary tools, processes, and capabilities.  Many of these areas have stagnated and are up for disruption by innovative new ventures. That is a great new opportunity, coupled with new information and communication technologies. While the startups can leverage them, the government needs to create the necessary policy framework and regulatory mechanisms to ensure that the benefits of the new technologies are made available to the common man, just like digital payments and phone connectivity.

About the Author

Flt.Lt. Sridhar Chakravarthi is an experienced organizational change coach and consultant with over 30 years of leadership experience in various industries. He believes in the possibility of exponential growth for individuals, start-ups, and mature organizations. He empowers them to achieve exponential growth by bringing agility into their mindset, processes, and behaviours. He is an authorized training partner for Enterprise Agility University, runs his company “Coach for Change” and lives in Bengaluru, India.

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