Research be Profit-Driven to Sustain: Bill Gates

Monday, July 27, 2009

Bill Gates while replying to a query on why Bell Labs’ research had ceased said that research with profit motive needed to be encouraged so that it could be sustainable. Research where the government encourages a company in return for a quid pro quo in the form of a regulated environment for that company was not sustainable in the long run, said Gates.

Gates identified Xerox as having done great innovation from which companies like Apple and others had later benefited. He also remarked on the possibility of a disconnect between R&D and actual product development saying, “You can have a lab that does not connect well to your actual products; we made that mistake, realized it early on and corrected it.”

Ravi Venkatesh, managing director, Microsoft India said that the next wave of technology will be led by mobility. “Dhirubhai Ambani realized and articulated that vision in 1999, and subsequently set-up Reliance Communications. Bharti Enterprises followed suit and today we have a world class telecom industry driven by innovation,” said Venkatesh.

Ratan Tata had that vision in transportation, and he created Nano that has captured the imagination of the world. So increasingly it is clear that there is a fortune to be made in the middle of the pyramid, if not at the bottom of the pyramid, said Venkatesh.

A similar kind of disruptive innovation approach needed to be taken to address challenges in healthcare, education, Venkatesh said.

Microsoft itself sees India as a lab for innovation, and has been enthusiastically implementing some new ideas here, said Venkatesh. In some of them like providing computer access in rural India we struggled initially but realized that there was a way to do it, which was through public-private partnerships, said Venkatesh.

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