The future is bright for innovation in India - Sumita Mitra, European Inventor Award 2021 Finalist - WorldHRDiary

May 26, 2021

The future is bright for innovation in India - Sumita Mitra, European Inventor Award 2021 Finalist


In an exclusive interview, Sumita Mitra, an Indian-American chemist who has been nominated as a finalist in the “Non-EPO countries” category of the European Inventor Award 2021 talked about talent landscape in the region. She was the first to apply nanotechnology to the production of dental materials, leading to the creation of a new composite to repair teeth which has many advantages over conventional materials. The European Inventor Award is one of Europe's most prestigious innovation prizes. Launched by the European Patent Office in 2006, it honours individual inventors and teams of inventors whose pioneering inventions provide answers to some of the biggest challenges of our times.

Sumita Mitra
Sumita Mitra

Sumita Mitra’s material overcomes many of the limitations of previous dental composites, which were either too weak to be used on biting surfaces, or quickly lost their polish and became physically unattractive. In addition, her invention is more versatile than other composites, meaning it can be used in any area of the mouth, and simplifies the filling procedure for dentists. Commercialised as Filtek™ Supreme Universal Restorative since 2002 by 3M, the US multinational for whom Mitra worked for more than 30 years, the technology and the products developed from it are today used by dentists around the globe. 


1. Being a Scientist, what is your take on the talent landscape of the Asian region- particularly in India?

The Asian region has a huge pool of talent when it comes to science and technology. In India the training received at the good schools and colleges is world class. I still draw upon the fundamentals that were so well taught when I was in high school and college in India. Encouragement in the post-collegiate level to pursue these areas and providing adequate opportunities for employment would be the key to harnessing the talent for innovation and technological progress.

2. What according to you are key drivers of innovation in the field of healthcare?

- Key improvements in materials technology including nanoscience

- Information technology – better access by all segments of the population

- Big data and artificial intelligence

- Gene editing and precision medicine.

3. What should we do to boost innovation in India?

- Provide sustained and consistent funding in R&D at the national level.

- Provide an environment for open discussion of ideas and findings of scientists without early criticism but constructive feedback.

- Promote collaboration and team endeavors involving people from different disciplines and with diverse backgrounds

- Allow for sharing of research results in the scientific community through presentations, attendance of conferences and publications in refereed journals.

4. How do you see the future of innovation in country like India?

I think that the future is bright for innovation in India provided the country harnesses the talents and encourages free flow of information globally.

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