CII India Innovation Summit: Inspiring Innovation from Day One

July 12 dawned grey and dreary, but the overcast sky did nothing to dim the enthusiasm of the delegates attending the 14th CII India Innovation Summit, waiting eagerly for the event to begin. With everyone settled, the hall filled, and inaugural lamp lit, we were all ready for what was sure to be an incredible day. Eminent speakers Hon’ble Minister K J George, Dr N Muthukumar, Kris Gopalakrishnan, and Mr Vijay Thadani inaugurated the summit, explaining at length the role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the present and its scope for the future.

We also got a first-hand glimpse of this future at the innovator’s exhibition, where cutting-edge developments in sectors such as drone technology and virtual reality (VR) cricket were on display. The exhibition remained available to the delegates at anytime between the numerous panel discussions, breakout sessions, and workshops planned throughout the day.

Panel Discussions

In the panel discussions that followed the inauguration, experts from various fields presented their views on the use and nature of AI.

Panel 1 speakers:

  • Prof Mario Sergio Salerno, Full Professor in the Production Engineering Department of Polytechnic School, University of São Paulo
  • Mr Venugopal Ganapathy, Co-founder and CEO of Axilor Ventures
  • Mr Rishikesha Krishnan, Director, IIM Indore

The first panel, chaired by Accenture India’s Rekha Menon, focused primarily on the relationship between startups, corporates, and new technology. It encouraged a lively discussion among the panelists and attendees on the role of startups in the evolution and adoption cycle of AI. Professor Mario Sergio Salerno added to the discussion by highlighting the importance of student-run startups in the cycle, especially in India and Brazil, two countries with the highest percentage of startups founded by undergraduates. Startups have the capacity to accelerate the adoption of deep technology. This, in turn, encourages a symbiotic relationship between startups that need funding and corporates exploring low-risk opportunities to experiment with new technologies.

Panel 2 speakers:

  • Mr Vijayananda J, Chief Architect and Fellow, Data Science & AI at Philips HealthSuite Insights
  • Dr Shahaf Gal, Founder and Leader of Nomad Horizon Ltd, Israel
  • Prof V Valli Kumari, CEO of AP Innovation Society, Govt of Andhra Pradesh

This second panel, chaired by Dr Gopichand Katragadda, Group CTO of the Tata Group, delved into the scope of AI in various fields. Examples of its role in regulating sand mining and sanitation in Andhra Pradesh and revolutionizing treatment and diagnosis in the healthcare industry were cited to establish AI’s importance in viable solutions. Dr Shahaf Gal gave us a window into the capabilities of the technology as he explained its usage in the Israeli context, mentioning the many startups that support the Israeli military. He highlighted the importance of education in order to create a workforce that is prepared to work with AI, emphasizing the importance of mathematics and physics, as well as the need to reach out to minority communities in the STEM field. All three speakers agreed that the future of AI is in the hands of the youth, and stressed the importance of inculcating practical knowledge and an inquisitive spirit from a young age.


Four breakout sessions took place post lunch, each highlighting a specific aspect of AI and Machine Learning (ML) in various industries.

Session 1: Learning with Machines


  • Mr Ajay Nanavati, President of Grey Gurus Management Advisors LLP (Chair)
  • Mr Anil Srinivasan, Founder of Rhapsody
  • Mr Raghavan Iyer, Managing Director of Accenture Technology, India
  • Dr Joseph George, Founder of Workplace Catalysts LLP

This session explored the impact of AI and ML on Learning Systems, focusing heavily on learning theory, reflective observation, and bot-curated content. We also explored the topic of AI enhancing human intelligence as opposed to simulating independent intelligence. Using reflective observation, AI can help develop new learning theories through experimentation and, along with ML, help curate information to match an individual’s personal learning plan. However, it was clear that we still have a long way to go in the field of education, as we are still trying to develop technology that can accurately take into account the cognitive complexity and cultural nuances of each student.

Session 2: Drivers are Us


  • Mr Kamal Bali, President and Managing Director of Volvo Group, India (Chair)
  • Mr Henrik Wigermo, Senior Manager, Government Affairs, Special Projects at BMW Group Region China
  • Mr Nitin Pai, Sr VP, Marketing and Strategy, Tata Elxsi
  • Mr Charles Frump, Managing Director of Volvo Car India

The second session debated the tradeoffs, benefits, and risks of autonomous and assisted driving systems through various lenses. The discussion was placed firmly in the Indian context, focusing on practical and social aspects of the technology’s potential applications, such as improved fuel efficiency and safety. There was also special focus on creating a supportive infrastructure for autonomous vehicles. The session concluded with a discussion on the scope of AI and autonomous technology to streamline India’s public transportation system.

Session 3: A Farm with a Mind


  • Mr K R Venkataredri, COO of Rallis India Ltd (Chair)
  • Mr Nagaraja Prakasm, Partner at Acumen Fund
  • Mr Ranjith Mukundan, Co-founder of Stellapps Technologies
  • Mr Piyush Mishra, DGM, Group Technology and Innovation Office at Tata Service

Agricultural technology is a booming industry, and in this session, speakers discussed the role, scale, and impact of AI and ML systems in the field. Especially interesting was the discussion on how automation from farm to fork could help create a closed-loop system and enhance farm productivity. AI has the capacity to help farmers plant according to demand and reduce wastage, but this is only one application of the technology. There are many young minds looking to solve the country’s problems, and agriculture is an industry that is just waiting for their solutions.

Session 4: Algorithms Gone Wild


  • Mr K R Sanjiv, CTO of Wipro Technologies Ltd (Chair)
  • Mr Shiv Kumar Bhasin, CTO of State Bank of India
  • Mr Rohan K George, Partner at Samvad Partners
  • Mr Sudipta Ghosh, Partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers
  • Mr Ravinder Pai Singh, Chief Information and Innovation Officer at Tata SIA Airlines Limited

The session scrutinized the ethics of AI, especially in a scenario where algorithms go rogue. The focus swiftly turned to questions on blame, as various situations were discussed. For example, if rogue AI were to cause an injury, who was at fault, the engineer, or the machine itself? The panel also discussed the blurred lines created by intelligent machines. The recent example of Sophia, the robot who became a citizen of Saudi Arabia, was used to demonstrate the legal grey area presented by intelligent technology.


Aspiring programmers and AI engineers had an illuminating experience at the post-lunch workshop. This hands-on session walked the participants through the process of building a facial recognition system. Experts in the field took both a theoretical and a practical approach. They explained how AI recognizes images in layers, and how engineers use matrices and calculations to composite these layers into a single image, before helping the delegates build software on their laptops. The interactive nature of the session provided a platform for the participants to clear their doubts about the technology, and the experts were happy to guide them through the nuances of innovation. Most importantly, it showed them first-hand the complex processes that allow machines to complete even the simplest actions.

Young India

Three young innovators took center stage as they shared their perspective on the capabilities of technology. Their innovations are clear examples of how technology can be harnessed in a socially responsible way to support a variety of fields, and provide solutions for the unique problems faced within them.

  • Kuldeep Chaudhary has found a way to use AI in digital marketing to help with specific segmentation, marketing trends, etc
  • The company Str8bat has created a device that is attached to a cricket bat to provide real-time analysis of your performance, allowing anyone anywhere to gain access to top-class coaching
  • Rishab Krishna is a 10th grader from NPS who, along with his 12th grade brother, has developed a software that can diagnose amblyopia through a selfie. The software, based on factors such as eye shape, can even identify people at risk of developing the disease


The event closed with student presentations from the winners and runners up of the 3M Student Challenge. These young innovators had spent numerous hours perfecting their pitch, and presented innovations ranging from a standing wheelchair to a soy milk solution for non-lactating mothers in rural areas.

The concluding event of the day — Dinner Talk — was conducted by Technicolor’s Biren Ghose. His talk on digital doubles in Hollywood captivated the audience. He claimed that “movies do pose many, many questions for science,” and explained how digital mapping and modelling help create the spectacular VFX that we know and love. His talk segued into dinner, where it continued on a more informal basis over plates heaped with delicacies — a fitting end to what was a highly eventful first day.