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Investment, Research Driving AI Growth in India: Study

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Higher investment and research are driving significant growth of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in India, finds a study.

The AI Index 2021 annual report by the Indian School of Business’s IT-focused think tank, Srini Raju Centre for Information Technology and Networked Economy (SRITNE), captured trends, research & development education, and entrepreneurial activity. The ISB research team, led by Professor Deepa Mani, found that investments in AI-managed processes have grown substantially across businesses in India.

It noted that the ongoing pandemic sped up technology adoption across most business verticals in 2020-21. While until a few years back, it was mostly IT firms that were adopting AI on a large scale; now, other sectors are fast catching up, thanks to the phenomenal growth of start-ups and ongoing investment activities in the country.

The report was formally launched Friday by Telangana’s Principal Secretary, Industries & Commerce, and Information Technology, Jayesh Ranjan, and Microsoft India’s National Technology Officer, Dr. Rohini Srivathsa, in a virtual event.

Srivathsa said that an earlier NASSCOM study has indicated that data and AI can add half a trillion USD to India’s GDP. “The pandemic has led people to consider investments in AI and automation proactively,” she said, adding that usage of AI would also contribute towards the framing of better Covid response and faster economic recovery going ahead.

“The research analysis revealed that while overall activity and investments are increasing significantly, these activities are concentrated in a few regions,” said Mani, Professor and Area Leader of Information Systems, ISB and Executive Director, SRITNE-ISB.

“AI has helped Indian businesses to be resilient to the Covid-19 pandemic in the country and helped them redesign their models for tomorrow.”

According to the report, there has been steady growth in AI-related research publications, collaborations, and patents. Machine Learning emerged as a popular subject for AI researchers, with over 37 percent of the AI-related publications dedicated to the subject in 2020.

Distribution of start-ups across geographies revealed that Karnataka leads with the maximum number of AI start-ups, followed by Maharashtra.

“As per our analysis of online job searches for the period 2019-2020, there has been a steady growth in AI-related jobs posting in India, though it represents only a small percentage (2 percent in January 2019 -March 2020) of total jobs posted in India,” says the report.

In India, the popularity of the keyword Machine Learning grew steadily from 2015 to 2020, overtaking Artificial Intelligence in 2017.

There is, however, minimal organized data on the demand and supply of AI-related skills and human capital in India. Therefore, the gap between skills and employment in the AI domain is not entirely analyzed yet.

“Our study suggests that while there has been a significant advancement in knowledge creation and appropriation in the field of AI, much more needs to be done, especially with respect to skilling and education. We will continue to track the growth of this technology across the critical areas mentioned in the report. We feel that the focus should be on widespread skilling, investments, and education building in other regions as well, which in turn would help to reduce inequality,” said Mani.

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