We see India as a land of innovation, with a growing ecosystem of entrepreneurs and tech-savvy users. At the same time, the country is also a data powerhouse, consuming and generating massive data at scale. That presents an intriguing opportunity to us as a leading data technology and infrastructure company. So, we’re investing heavily in our business operations, R&D, and workforce in the country.

To dive in further, two of our top leaders from India sat down with CNBC-TV18, a leading business news channel, to talk about our partnership with the Government of India, guidance on data center “parks”, technology developments, and more. Here’s a look at the top takeaways from their interview.

Note: You can watch the full, five-minute interview here.

Supria Dhanda – Vice President & Country Manager, India

Supria Dhanda, VP and Country Manager of India at Western Digital, poses for a photo.

In her remarks, Supria went into detail on the Data Innovation Bazaar 2020, a digital platform that we helped launch to address national issues in India through the use of data. We had the help of several partners to launch the contest, including from the Government of India: Startup India, Invest India, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), and TiEDelhi.

It’s the second year that we’ve had the Data Innovation Bazaar, following our 2019 edition. Last year, Supria noted that we saw over 500 submissions from university students and early stage startups from across India. Their ideas applied to a wide range of social challenges, including affordable healthcare, equitable education, and sustainable transportation. From these submissions, 40 teams were chosen and invited to present their ideas in a bazaar-style format to a panel of experts from academia and industry. Upon further evaluation, the top-3 teams were awarded with cash prizes. The top-10 teams were invited to attend a three-day innovation boot camp with our leadership team at our Bengaluru campus. We profiled seven of these winning teams on our blog last year.

This year, we’re scaling up the program. Specifically, Supria pointed out the newly added “Financial Inclusion” category, to provide sustainable digital services that leverage emerging technologies and data services. In addition, a special prize will be awarded to the top entries from entrepreneurs that happen to be women. Doing so supports diversity and inclusion within the entrepreneur ecosystem in India.

Guruswamy Ganesh – Senior Vice President, Data Storage Products Group

Guruswamy Ganesh, Senior Vice President, Data Storage Products Group at Western Digital, poses for a photo.

Ganesh started out by talking about the move towards data localization in India. The national government is looking to develop a series of “data center parks”, which are multi-tenant, open access data centers. For hyperscalers and cloud providers, data center parks could offer an ecosystem with benefits in cost, reliability, scalability, sustainability, and power. Our role as a neutral, third-party is to guide how these data centers can be built with a robust infrastructure.

These comments led Ganesh to describe the strong investments that we have made in the country. We spend around $200 million per year on research and development in India. Whether research into 112-layer 3D NAND or other types of data technology, we’re always looking at new ways to help people better move their data. Along with this R&D spending, we employ around 2,700 workers in India, which is one of our largest branches outside of the United States.

Ganesh also highlighted a few recent announcements in our SanDisk portfolio. One major launch was our 1TB microSD card. He mentioned that during his early years as an engineer, it was not uncommon for an entire data center to have 1TB in capacity. Now that data is stored in a device the size of a human thumb nail! In addition, we added a new product to our iXpand family – a wireless charger that can automatically backup your photos, videos, and files. Our initial launch in Japan has been well-received, and we have ongoing plans to launch the product in India. Finally, we introduced a dual-drive USB, which makes it easier to move your data between a USB Type-C mobile phone, tablet, or laptop and USB Type-A computer.

Our Future Data Technology in India

We’re all in for India. Our R&D spending consistently tops $200 million per year in the country, with no current plans to slow down. Through university outreach, our recruiting teams are bringing onboard the next generation of scientists, technologists, and innovators. And our partnership with the Government of India will continue to build out and explore new areas of data collaboration. We’re excited to help realize the potential of data in India, and will continue to support growth in the country.

Here’s the Latest from Western Digital in India: