Brand owners plan Indian innovation drive

06 October 2010

NEW DELHI: Major brand owners like General Electric, DuPont and Nestlé are all turning to India as an innovation hub.

General Electric yields roughly $3bn (€2.2bn; £1.9bn) from its Indian operations annually, and opened the John F Welch Technology Centre, Bangalore, at the start of the millennium, investing around $175m since then.

It has outlined an intention to boost the headcount at this unit by 3,000 scientists, supplementing the 5,500 existing staff, alongside constructing a plant in the country.

"India is a very critical market right now. As the outlook for the US and Europe slows ... the interest levels here continue to go up," said John L Flannery, president/ceo, GE India.

"We have reorganised the business, created a separate P&L so that we could be more responsive to the market and make decisions quickly."

"If we were to pick a word of what we have to do in India, it is localisation."

DuPont, which manufactures a range of goods from mobile handsets to chemicals, will allocate some $300m to India over the next three years, via the DuPont Knowledge Center, Hyderabad.

The organisation currently generates approximately $500m in Indian sales per annum, and hopes to double this total by 2012.

"India is among our top ten revenue contributors," said Mark P Vergnano, executive vice president, DuPont.

"The plan is to make it among the top five. That's the reason why we are investing more in DKC."

The core sectors DuPont will be targeting include farming and green tech, responding to the distinct requirements of Indian customers.

"We are looking at coming out with newer products to improve efficiency in agriculture, clean technologies and our other focus areas," said Homi Bhedwar a DKC director.

Nestlé, the food group, has recently unveiled plans to build a dedicated R&D site in India, which will be fully functional by mid-2012.

"The centre will focus on 'popularly positioned products', not just for India but also worldwide," said Klaus Zimmermann, Nestlé's director of research and development.

"[These products] meet the specific needs of consumers with lower income levels by offering them high-quality, nutritionally enhanced products at affordable prices."

At present, Nestlé receives just 1% of global revenues from India, and is aiming to increase this figure substantially going forward.

"The centre would help in developing products for the Indian market across segments for dairy, cereal, beverage, culinary and shelf-stable dairy products," said Zimmermann.

Procter & Gamble, the FMCG giant, is also attempting to tailor its Indian strategy in line with the corporate mantra of "purpose-inspired" growth.

"It's certainly not an aircraft engine; we don't always go for the big bang," said Ashish Chatterjee, head of P&G's Bangalore Innovation Centre.

"Our innovation is driven by consumer inspiration."

Data sourced from Livemint, Economic Times, DNA, Mydigitalfc; additional content by Warc staff