‘Partnering with academia is our key strength’: Suchit Jain

The VP, Strategy and Business Development at Dassault Systemes, talks about how engaging with students and startups early on, is enabling the French technology giant to garner longstanding brand advocacy for its design solutions from the future workforce.

By Mayank Dhingra calendar 06 Mar 2024 Views icon7567 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
‘Partnering with academia is our key strength’: Suchit Jain

The collaboration between industry and academia is essential for driving innovation, research, and development across various sectors. This partnership facilitates the exchange of knowledge, resources, and expertise, ultimately leading to the advancement of technology and addressing real-world challenges. And that is exactly what Dassault Systemes is doing in India.

Is the accelerated push towards sustainable mobility driving business growth for Dassault design solutions?

There is an explosion happening around the EV infrastructure and new products around the world, and especially in the electric two- and three-wheeler segments, which are quite unique to India. There is an accelerated shift towards EVs, even for logistics the world over, and most of these products, one way or the other, are designed on Dassault Systemes' software solutions.

In the railway segment, for instance, we are particularly proud that nearly every train system across the world has been developed using SolidWorks, which, today, is being used to design both emerging as well as conventional products. So, we have a huge market, and while the EV business accounts for a small portion of that right now, it is growing faster than the other categories. Although we expect the overall growth for our mainstream business to continue to be in the double-digit range, growth from EVs will be much higher.

How's the business model changing with the shift to more cloud-based offerings?

There are two aspects of the business model - the first one being the move from the perpetual license-based to the SaaS model, and selling software as a service.

Secondly, when it comes to the cloud, it entails changing the entire business model while enhancing the solution with cloud capabilities such as cloud collaboration, among other things as well. This is the path we are choosing, and we are enabling individual, subscription-based licenses, and enhancing them with more cloud-based products.

Of our three business verticals — mainstream, enterprise, and life sciences - it is the former, which also includes automotive, and accounts for around 25% of the overall Dassault Systemes' business. It is the one witnessing an accelerated shift towards cloud-based products, and in automotive, it is not just OEMs, but our clientele includes several component suppliers, and startups in the mobility ecosystem as well.

Is the SaaS model also enabling more startups to come to the Dassault Systemes platform?

With startups, especially if they are qualified ones, our mantra is to give them free software for the first year, following with up to a 70% discount in the second year, and 50% in the next. So, our aim is to make our solutions more affordable and accessible to them, and therefore, we offer them our tools at a minimal cost for the initial few years of a startup’s journey.

Having said that, we want to focus on the cloud, and Saas-based business model in the future, and once a startup transitions into the direction of becoming a successful company, which has been using our solutions since their beginning, it continues to opt for our subscription-based tools.

Does Dassault Systemes also engage with future engineers by partnering with the Indian academia?

Of the 7.5 million global users in our mainstream business, around five million are from the academia, and the idea is to empower students, who will become the future workforce. So, partnering with the academia is one of our biggest strengths, and we organise student competitions such as the ‘Aakruti’ design challenge in India, wherein students from over 350 colleges across the country participate.

It is not just the top universities like the IITs, but we work closely with colleges across the board, including those in the Tier II and Tier III remote locales in India.

While we see a lot of innovation coming out of India, with students trying to solve local problems, there is also an increasing shift towards the startup-oriented mentality in the country's students, who have a zeal to be the next big entrepreneurs. Therefore, academia is our key strength, and our aim is to truly empower students, and give a push to their careers. They automatically become our brand advocates in the long run, if they already know our software well.

This interview was first published in Autocar Professional's March 1, 2024 issue.

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