Ankita Tyagi | 9th Feb 2023
Owing to an evolving focus on trade, trusted technology and security, India-Europe collaboration, strategic relationship and bilateral economic cooperation is constantly being strengthened. The same has been endorsed in 2020 as part of the ‘EU-India Strategic Partnership: Roadmap to 2025’ . Europe’s leadership in sustainability, research and development (R&D) and innovation coupled with India’s entrepreneurial spirit and large and fastest-growing consumer market make them natural partners.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) already contribute to 30 per cent of India’s GDP and 40 per cent of India’s exports . They are crucial for local economic development, and play a noteworthy role in job creation, poverty alleviation and economic growth. Their capacity to identify new markets and to then prepare customised solutions to meet these demands is a key factor in its growth trajectory. European markets, for example, search for consistency and certifications on quality; transparency; ethical conduct; technology suitability; and sufficient compliance with local legislation. Green, low-carbon manufacturing has recently become a crucial demand as well.
In order to move up the Indian SMEs in the value chain, an Indian Central Government Scheme known as the Rising and Accelerating MSME Performance (RAMP ) was established in partnership with the World Bank, for five years FY22 to FY26 in order to boost productivity and financing for Covid-hit MSMEs, through active involvement of the states. The Indian SMEs sector has especially recognised the role of technology as a key enabler for enhanced productivity and a way to meet the demand of their services and manufacturing capabilities. They are re-organising their structure and manufacturing units to adapt to such emerging technologies, and the opportunities it creates. Further, e-commerce platforms are also providing SMEs the opportunity to compete with big players which was a tedious task earlier. RAMP will be crucial to improve the quality, transparency and processes in facility management to such businesses. This will also open the door for collaboration with international partners, especially European businesses.
EU and India: Existing Initiatives and Framework
EU and India have engaged to strengthen links between their flagship initiatives such as Digital India, European Digital Strategy and the Digital Single Market for Europe.
A joint ICT working group between India and the EU was established in 2011 with the aim of having constant discussions. Regular dialogues take place within this Group, focusing on market access issues for companies on both sides; regulatory issues; ICT standardisation; and research and innovation (including startups). These meetings are complemented by ICT Business Dialogues.
Startups, deep technology, emergent technology, and standards framework are given particular attention under the existing Third Generation Partnership Programme (3GPP). several projects have been launched revolving around 5G, cloud-based communications standards, and cybersecurity. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed in May 2018 by the 5G Infrastructure Association (5G IA) Telecommunications, which represents the European industry, and the Research Programme Standards Development Society (TSDSI), India, to promote cooperation on 5G research, standards, regulations, and policies in 2021. The EU supports technical cooperation between the Indian and European telecom standardisation bodies (TSDSI and ETSI) on future global standards for such technologies.
New cooperation avenues are developing in the areas of Artificial Intelligence (AI), data protection and privacy, and cyber security to address the challenges in emerging technologies. The bilateral Cyber Security Dialogue focuses on exchanging best practices on addressing cybercrime and strengthening cyber resilience.
The Roadmap to 2025 reflects the importance of this sector in bilateral relations. During this Summit in July 2020 , leaders from both regions placed a strong emphasis on ‘human-centric digitisation to promote inclusive economies and communities.’ One important part of the EU's global plan for digital cooperation is the EU's Digital Single Market, which aims to improve collaboration on digital concerns.
In this strategic document, both partners express their commitment to continue their ICT cooperation under the aforementioned working group, as well as to advance shared methods and standards in the following areas:
• Digital transformation
• Improvimg regulatory framework convergence
• Advancing technical and regulatory cooperation on the development of new technologies
• Supporting collaboration between Indian and European industries and start-up ecosystems on the development of new technologies
• Supporting the work between EU and Indian industries and start-up ecosystems on enhanced cooperation on innovation and technology deployment
The G20 framework also prioritises the creation and endorsement of a "comprehensive legal framework" to govern the online world. In this light, it is interesting to note that the government withdrew the Personal Data Protection Bill from Parliament in August 2022 . It is envisioned that the policymakers are working on significantly more robust regulation(s). This includes bringing separate laws on data privacy; the overall internet ecosystem; cybersecurity and telecom regulations; and using non-personal data to foster innovation in the nation.
On the flip side, it is foreseen that data localisation clauses may be revised in the near future. These laws currently have the potential to hinder the EU-India data negotiations as they would hinder data protection equivalence and a free transfer of data, both of which are key to EU-India cooperation in the digital sector.
European Business and Technology Centre (EBTC), a project advisory and facilitation organisation, on its part, has been actively working on driving such collaborations in the Europe-India Business Corridor. As a trusted partner in the Europe-India Business Corridor, EBTC builds actionable intelligence through projects, clusters and programmes backed by its vast body of knowledge & innovative solutions. This is achieved through its expertise, network and know-how, with a specific focus towards sustainability, innovation, green technology and internationalisation.
Scaling Up Innovation
Assessing demand, fostering innovation and scaling such solutions is critical, especially in the urban context. After analysis and evaluation of various models, the Living Lab PPP can be considered suitable for developing countries like India to meet their future objectives and long-lasting collaboration with industries in developed economies. It is a cooperation-based open innovation ecosystem focused on meeting demand-driven objectives. Through multi-stakeholder participation, it enables cities to become test labs to create innovative products.
Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY), Smart City Mission and the State of Telangana as ‘Founder Partners’, have institutionalised the first Living Lab in Hyderabad . IIIT Hyderabad and EBTC as the technical cooperation partners. The Living Lab is inspired by the Amsterdam Innovation Arena (AIA) in the Netherlands and is benchmarked against the existing Lab in Amsterdam. The vision document for the Lab has been created after consultation sessions and workshops with the relevant stakeholders. It has identified its priority sectors are Water, Waste, Energy, Safety & Security, and Health. In addition to these, other sectors may be explored depending on the priorities of the Corporate Partners.
Open challenge programs were launched in September 2021 as Intel joined as a Corporate Founding Partner.) Now, more than 6 PoCs are already in various stages of planning and execution. In addition to this, the onboarding of more Corporate Partners is in progress. Besides Silicon Labs and Intel, Signify and Saint Gobain, have also officially joined the Lab.
The success of this Living Lab has fueled the demand of creating more such structures. EBTC, along with its partner network, is actively working on formalising structures for six more such innovation labs which will serve as Centres of Excellence for future challenges and Proof of Concepts.
innovation, technology, adaptation, business corridor