Low-cost ultrasound equipment, a portable ECG machine that weights under 3 kg, and even a turbine that runs on gobar (cow dung) gas – these are the kind of localized innovations that General Electric, the diversified global giant, is betting on to multiply revenues in India.
Tejpreet Singh Chopra, GE’s chief executive officer for India, told Hindustan Times in an interview that the company had a clear focus on local manufacturing and mass-oriented technology products as it rolls out a strategy to more than triple its revenue from the current $2.6 billion to $8.0 billion by 2010.
GE is mainly eyeing chances in healthcare, infrastructure and financial services, in which it has expertise in both consumer finance assets like home loans and sophisticated financial structuring for commercial deals like aircraft purchase.
“The real driver in all these businesses is technology,” Chopra said. “Now we are driving technology for this market and also ask: Can we try and make this for this country and make it global and ship it overseas? That’s what we are looking at.”
GE has 4,000 PhDs and engineers working at its John F. Welch Technology Center (JFWTC) in Bangalore, which is General Electric's first and largest integrated multidisciplinary Research and Development Center outside the US.
Founded by GE’s aggressive former chairman and named after him, about 1,000 of the experts at this centre are healthcare specialists. Chopra said the centre was working on innovations suited to India, while also being part of a complex global web of research and development work.
“We are trying to solve the problem for the 300 to 400 million people in rural areas,” Chopra said. “The problem that they (scientists) are solving now in the country is very different from the challenges that people in the West have. We’re trying to solve problems for people in the rural areas.”
Chopra said GE India was “for all practical purposes” an Indian company, with less than 20 expatriates in a headcount of 15,000. The headcount does not include those in Genpact, the business process outstourcing (BPO) company that GE hived off from the captive call-centre based unit that helps GE. While the gobar gas turbine is part of a social work initiative by GE, the company has its eye on business prospects in ventures like this, Chopra said.
GE is eyeing opportunities in meeting the needs for clean water as it has technology that helps purify water contaminated by arsenic, fluoride and other such chemicals.