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IT industry helping SL outperform despite low innovation inputs: Global innovation guru

Despite Sri Lanka’s continued low investment in innovation inputs, Sri Lanka has made strong headway in innovation outputs because of its competitive IT industry, according to Professor Soumitra Dutta, architect of the Global Innovation Index (GII).

The global expert on innovation suggested Sri Lanka strengthen its country branding to elevate its global positioning on innovation, building on the IT industry’s new ‘Island of Ingenuity’ branding. He was speaking at the ‘SLASSCOM Innovation Summit’ in Colombo, the inaugural conference of the country’s IT and knowledge services industry chamber.

Citing the latest data from the index, which benchmarks countries on their performance in driving innovation, Dutta noted that Sri Lanka needs to invest more in R&D, technology, and new skills, in order to keep pace with the global shifts taking place.

“Recent technology developments have helped create a level playing field, but all countries are running fast,” noted Dutta, and advised Sri Lanka to place innovation at the top of the national agenda.

“Leadership commitment from the top is essential, together with constant measurement of progress. Leaders like Indian Prime Minister Modi and Chinese President Xi talk about innovation in every speech, and have national and state-level benchmarking in order to push the agenda forward.”

Dutta, a Professor at the Cornell University SC Johnson School of Business and former INSEAD Business School academic, suggested that Sri Lanka should consider establishing a National Innovation Council, and use the Global Innovation Index framework to guide improvements in the country.

He also welcomed steps to localise the GII and produce a ‘Sri Lanka Innovation Index’, to account for local nuances that can help better measure innovation in the country.

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