India reserves $7-billion military projects for startups

File photo: Sanjay Jaju, Joint Secretary, Department of Defence Production

New Delhi: India has reserved defence modernisation projects worth 500 billion rupees ($7 billion) for startup, Department of Defence Production Joint Secretary Sanjay Jaju said today.

At a Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers seminar on ‘Startups-Cutting Edge for Technology Infusion into Defence’ here, Jaju said the Government of India, in particular the Ministry of Defence, would set up five more defence innovation hubs across the country by 2024, in addition to the existing ones at Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu and Nasik in Maharashtra.

The defence ministry would also conduct more defence startup challenges for startups, in line with the two that were held during the previous tenure of the Narendra Modi government.

“In the defence sector, uncertainly is even bigger than other sectors, as there is only one customer, the government. The procurement processes too are tougher, as we cannot put lives of users at risk with unproven technologies,” Jaju said.

As a solution, the joint secretary asked the startups and the industry to look at exports to friendly foreign countries, instead of just looking at the Indian market. “The government will support exports within the control regulations that are in place. That’s why selection of technology to work on is very important for startups.”

India expects to enjoy the fruits of the first two Innovation in Defence Excellence (iDEX) programme in a few months from now. The relationship between the government and the startups would be a principal-client, no-frills-attached tie-up, Jaju said.

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