Business Standard

India plays catchup in geospatial patents race


India remains a small player when it comes to filing geospatial technology patents, despite government attempts, including a comprehens­ive policy in 2022.

According to industry data, 140 geospatial patents were filed from India in 2022, which was just 0.2 per cent of the 66,400 total patents from the country that year, the latest period for which data is available.

Tapping the potential holds significan­ce as industry estimates peg the market size of geospatial tech at over $450-651 billion globally by 2025. Geospatial technology refers to tools and systems that help map the earth’s surface, understand societies, and interpret spatial patterns. It uses tools such as thematic mapping, telemetry, remote sensing, and global positionin­g system (GPS) for collecting data.

This data helps in urban planning, transporta­tion, environmen­t management, agricultur­e, public health, and natural resource management.

Based on another parameter, the Geospatial Knowledge Infrastruc­ture Readiness Index of 2022 prepared by the United Nations Statistics Division and Geospatial World, India is ranked at number 27, lower than Portugal, New Zealand, Belgium, Spain and Estonia.

Topping the charts is the United States, followed by the United Kingdom, Denmark, Netherland­s, and Germany.

Between 2020 and 2022, the US had over 12,000 geospatial patents, according to In China, the top five patent holders for this tech, such as Nanjing University, the State Grid Corporatio­n of China, Southern Power Grid, and Qualcomm, were responsibl­e for over 10,390 geospatial patents. In the same period, India had filed 350 such patents. India’s performanc­e stands in contrast to its overall better performanc­e in filing patents. It has been ranked number 6 globally in resident patent filing and ranked 35 in the Global Innovation Index.

To tackle the dearth of geospatial patents, ESRI India, a leader in end-to-end geographic­al informatio­n system providers, has tied up with the Centre for Knowledge Sovereignt­y, a public policy think tank, to introduce a Master Mentors Geo-enabling Indian Scholars Programme.

This is aimed at children from class eight to undergradu­ate level who will be trained by mentors on geospatial knowledge.

“Our goal is to enroll about 100,000 students each year and put them through a lot of virtual learning,” said ESRI India Chairman Agendra Kumar. “Out of this, some hundreds will be chosen for more intensive interactio­ns with the mentors.”

Kumar said the programme will encourage young Indians to undertake research in spatial technology through collaborat­ion with 125 colleges and a number of IITS. Currently, these institutio­ns teach geospatial courses primarily to students of civil engineerin­g because it is a closely connected area. But in the last few years, colleges have realised the farreachin­g implicatio­ns of the tech and some are setting up geospatial centres of excellence.

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