New Delhi: India today said it has approved a $68-million funding programme to help startups to boost innovations in defence technologies over the next five years.
India’s Minister of Defence Rajnath Singh has “approved the budgetary support of Rs 498.8 crore to Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) – Defence Innovation Organisation (DIO) for the next five years,” a statement from the Ministry of Defence said.
The same announcement had been made by Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar in a single tweet on Jun. 9.
“The budgetary support will provide a big boost to the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as iDEX–DIO has the primary objective of self-reliance and indigenisation in defence and aerospace sector of the country,” the statement from the defence ministry said.
The creation of the iDEX framework and establishment of the DIO by the Department of Defence Production (DDP) is aimed at creating an ecosystem to foster innovation and technology development in defence and aerospace by engaging Industries including MSMEs (Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises), startups, individual innovators, Research and Development (R&D) institutes and academia, and provide them grants and funding and other support to carry out R&D development, which has good potential for future adoption for Indian defence and aerospace needs.
“The scheme, with budgetary support of Rs 498.8 crore for the next five years, is aimed at providing financial support to nearly 300 start-ups/MSMEs/individual innovators and 20 partner incubators under the DIO framework,” the statement said.
“It will support increased awareness in the Indian innovation ecosystem about defence needs and, conversely, in the Indian defence establishment about the potential of the Indian innovation ecosystem to deliver innovative solutions to meet their needs.”
The DIO, with its team, will enable the creation of channels for innovators to engage and interact with the Indian defence production industry. The long-term effect to be realised by the group is the establishment of a culture, where enlisting the effort of innovators by the Indian military is commonplace and frequent.
The scheme aims to facilitate rapid development of new, indigenised and innovative technologies for the Indian defence and aerospace sector to meet their needs in shorter timelines; create a culture of engagement with innovative start-ups to encourage co-creation for defence and aerospace; empower a culture of technology co-creation and co-innovation within the defence and aerospace sector and boost innovation among the start-ups and encourage them to be a part of the ecosystem.
The Department of Defence Production will release funds to DIO for setting up and managing the iDEX network in the form of Partner Incubators (PIs); communicating with innovators/start-ups/technology centres of MSMEs through the PIs including the PIs of Department of Science and Technology regarding defence and aerospace needs; organising various challenges/hackathons to shortlist potential technologies and entities and evaluating technologies and products developed by innovators/start-ups in terms of their utility and impact on the defence and aerospace setup.
The other activities include enabling and funding pilots using innovation funds dedicated to the purpose; interfacing with the armed forces top brass about key innovative technologies and encouraging their adoption into the defence establishment with suitable assistance; facilitating scale-up, indigenisation and integration in manufacturing facilities for successfully piloted technologies and organising outreach activities all across the country.