Research and development is key to innovation

18 July, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Research and development is necessary for the survival, growth and future development of every organisation. The growth and development of an organisation depends on farsighted decisions and skilled, educated and trained manpower.

Research and development (R&D) includes activities that companies undertake to innovate and introduce new products and services. It is often the first stage in the development process. The goal is typically to take new products and services to market and add to the company's bottom line. The term R&D is widely linked to innovation both in the corporate and government world or the public and private sectors. R&D allows a company to stay ahead of its competition. Without an R&D program, a company may not survive on its own and may have to rely on other ways to innovate such as engaging in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) or partnerships. Through R&D, companies can design new products and improve their existing offerings. Research creates new ideas, new products and services, and increases competition among allied products. It also improves the performance for making the organisation a reputable brand, increasing exports and earning power.

Bangladesh pharmaceutical industries are self-sufficient in medicine (drug) production and about 97 per cent of the production fulfils domestic demands and the rest medicines are being exported by many pharmaceutical companies to foreign countries. Some pharmaceutical companies have built drug plants in foreign lands and some others are thinking of doing the same.

Most of the drug industries make medicines by importing raw materials from foreign countries and exporting them. But only Research and Development is not sufficient for local and global competitions. Taking the Switzerland experience as example: Switzerland prioritises scientific education and research so that their people can innovate new ideas and products in industry and render service to the nation. They have first class scientific research organisations, cutting edge technologies and a business-friendly climate which contributes to the country’s productivity and development. Switzerland invests nearly three per cent of its GDP in research and development, one of the highest percentages in the world. More than 60 universities help to ensure the highest level of professional work. They connect with the industries through the exchange of knowledge and technology to support innovative start-ups. Switzerland attracts highly qualified foreign researchers where needed, as an important center of research in the native land and in the world. They have the world’s leading chemical and pharmaceutical firms encompassing meditech, biotech and nanotech companies and also machinery, electrical engineering and metal industries of worldwide fame.

Bangladesh has stressed on quality education of its people for rapid socio-economic development within the shortest possible time. Human capital formation and development with a view to produce innovative and technologically advanced manpower in the country is the main focus of the 7th and 8th five year plans. Human development is a key input to realise the goals of inclusive and shared economic growth and poverty reduction.

Recognising the importance of education, Bangladesh is committed to bring significant achievements in the education sector. Towards that end, Bangladesh is opening up more schools, colleges and universities stressing on technical and vocational colleges and universities. In response to social and market demands, the tertiary education system has grown rapidly recently and it is becoming a popular means for employment opportunities and self-reliance among students.

Many Bangladeshi students are going abroad for education, research and training to increase expertise and knowledge in various fields, professions and business. Development plans with education have been prioritised in public sector investments. Public spending on education and technology is increasing day by day which amounted to 15.2 per cent in the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

Development resource allocation in 8th five year plan has programs to strengthen the human capital. Bangladesh has given the highest priorities to ensure the labour forces are equipped with the right skills by undertaking various training programs and capacity enhancing activities. Total ADP (Annual Development Program) allocations for human development (education sector) in the 7th five year plan was Tk. 175.1 billion (based on current value) in FY2018, whereas it was Tk. 206 billion in FY2019 and it will be Tk. 242.1 billion in FY2020 (Source: Seventh Plan Projections). This data indicates that Bangladesh is increasing its budget size every financial year for human development (research, education and training) which is vital for our economic development.

Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC) is successful in many ways for discovery of various types of paddy, agricultural technologies and other agriculture products including fruits and vegetables. Mentionable that agricultural production has increased manifold during the past few decades.

Serum Institute of India is an Indian biotechnology and pharmaceutical company. It is the world's largest vaccine manufacturer. If it can research and develop vaccines itself or with collaboration with native and foreign research institutes like Oxford University, then why cannot we do the same in our country. Here it may be mentioned that Serum Institute of India is manufacturing the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 Vaccine which is being used worldwide for protection against the Coronavirus. The same is applicable for the Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine. Thus, if we innovate new products and services ourselves by research and development, it will accelerate our national economic development.


Md. Muzibur Rahman is a columnist