A Huge Innovation And Design Conference In India.

I’m off to India next week to give a keynote speech to the CII-NID (Confederation of Indian Industries—National Institute of Design) Conference. China, of course, has been sharply increasing its investment in design and innovation for some time and now India is beginning to put resources into them. China has made innovation central to its next Five Year Plan and India recently passed a National Design Policy.

In terms of broad statistics, China leads India. China has about 300 design colleges (most are traditional art schools but about a dozen are very sophisticated), while India has 10. There are about 240 design programs in China and about a dozen in India. China churns out 30,000 to 100,000 design grads a year, depending on your definition. India graduates a fraction of that. I’d say that in terms of public policy, India is about ten years behind China at this point, but beginning to close the design gap.

Yet the CEO of Infosys, Nandan Nilekani and the CEO of Wipro, Azim Premji have both showed me that in terms of business model innovation, India is probably ahead of China. Taking advantage of its enormous Bottom of The Pyramid base of poor people (got that—“taking advantage” and not bemoaning the fact), India has redesigned the hospital. The Aravind Hospital System is probably the most productive and low-cost in the world thanks redesigning the patient and doctor experience.

And Cavin Kare, an Indian company, changed the high-volume, low-price business model, withits single-serve sachets for shampoo. Unilver and P&G copied the model and are doing super in India. Ditto for cell phones—Indian telecom companies. has designed a way for the poorest of people to buy services at a penny a minute, connecting farmers to the marketplace and people to the larger world.

So I’m hoping to learn a lot while in Bangalore.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.