The Rise Of India
Growth is only just starting, but the country's brainpower is already reshaping Corporate America
As you pull into General Electric's (GE ) John F. Welch Technology Center, a uniformed guard waves you through an iron gate. Once inside, you leave the dusty, traffic-clogged streets of Bangalore and enter a leafy campus of low buildings that gleam in the sun. Bright hallways lined with plants and abstract art -- "it encourages creativity," explains a manager -- lead through laboratories where physicists, chemists, metallurgists, and computer engineers huddle over gurgling beakers, electron microscopes, and spectrophotometers. Except for the female engineers wearing saris and the soothing Hindi pop music wafting through the open-air dining pavilion, this could be GE's giant research-and-development facility in the upstate New York town of Niskayuna.
It's more like Niskayuna than you might think. The center's 1,800 engineers -- a quarter of them have PhDs -- are engaged in fundamental research for most of GE's 13 divisions.
In one lab, they tweak the aerodynamic designs of turbine-engine blades. In another, they're scrutinizing the molecular structure of materials to be used in DVDs for short-term use in which the movie is automatically erased after a few days. In another, technicians have rigged up a working model of a GE plastics plant in Spain and devised a way to boost output there by 20%. Patents? Engineers here have filed for 95 in the U.S. since the center opened in 2000.
Pretty impressive for a place that just four years ago was a fallow plot of land. Even more impressive, the Bangalore operation has become vital to the future of one of America's biggest, most profitable companies. "The game here really isn't about saving costs but to speed innovation and generate growth for the company," explains Bolivian-born Managing...