Rajnath Singh launches Defence India Startup Challenge-4

The defence startup ecosystem is a decisive step towards achieving self-reliance in the spirit of AtmaNirbhar Bharat campaign, said the Defence Minister during the launch of Defence India Startup Challenge-4
Rajnath Singh launches Defence India Startup Challenge-4

New Delhi: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh launched the Defence India Startup Challenge-4 during the iDEX event, featuring the initiatives aimed at expanding the horizons of Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) ecosystem in New Delhi on Tuesday. iDEX-4 Fauji initiative and Product Management Approach (PMA) guidelines were also launched by the Raksha Mantri during the event.  Each of these initiatives is expected to facilitate iDEX-DIO to scale up the program qualitatively and quantitatively.

iDEX4Fauji is a first of its kind initiative, launched to support innovations identified by members of the Indian Armed Forces and will bolster frugal innovation ideas from soldiers/ field formations. There are more than 13 Lakh service personnel working in the field and on borders, handling extreme conditions and equipment and would be having many ideas and innovations to improve such equipment. There was no mechanism to support such innovations.  iDEX4Fauji would open this window and allow our Faujis to become part of the innovation process and get recognised and rewarded. Services Headquarters will provide support to the soldiers & field formations all over the country to ensure maximum participation.

Speaking on the occasion Rajnath Singh said that the iDEX initiative stands out as one of the most effective and well-executed defence Startup ecosystem created in our country and it would be a decisive step towards achieving self-reliance in the spirit of the AtmaNirbhar Bharat campaign. Singh said, for the first time, an atmosphere has been created in the country when different stakeholders have been brought together to push for innovations in the defence sector. "In order to further strengthen our defence system and make it self- reliant the participation of the private sector is also crucial. For this, we have taken certain steps like partnerships with the private sector, technology transfer, 74 % FDI through automatic route and the recently released negative list of 101 items for import ban after a stipulated period." he also said that only yesterday the government launched Defence Acquisition procedure 2020 which seeks to encourage the private industry to participate in the defence sector. Defence Minister also exhorted the Armed Forces to "make full use of the Defence Innovation Organisation (DIO) platform to meet their technical requirements and the Indian Startups to use this opportunity to become an integral part of our Defence enablers."

The event was addressed among others by Minister of State for Defence Shripad Yesso Naik,  Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar (IAS) and Secretary, Department of Defence Production Rajkumar (IAS).

Under Defence India Startup Challenge (DISC) 4, eleven challenges from Armed forces, OFB&DPSUs were thrown open to prospective startups, innovators, MSMEs alike to provide their innovative ideas on technologies which find their application in the defence sector. The challenges are as follows:

  • Autonomous Underwater Swarm Drones
  • Predictive, Preventive & Prescriptive Machine Monitoring
  • Super Resolution for Improving Spatial Resolution
  • AI-based Satellite Image Analysis
  • Prediction and forecasting of atmospheric visibility
  • Computer Generated Targets for Virtual Training
  • Remote Real-Time In-Flight Health Monitoring of Aircrew
  • MF-TDMA based Wideband SATCOM Modem
  • Foliage Penetration Radar
  • Reduction of RCS of Naval Warships
  • Target Detection in Chaff Environment

In order to develop a 'right product and the product right', DIO has adopted the Product Management Approach to steer the prototype development to a market-ready product.  These guidelines are first of their kind and their release by Raksha Mantri is intended to monitor product development milestones achieved by iDEX winners against the requirements set by the Services/ DPSUs/ OFB.

The iDEX initiative of the Department of Defence Production was launched by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in April 2018 with the objective to encourage and nurture innovations in the Indian Defence sector and create an ecosystem where Startups, MSMEs and individual innovators could interact easily with the Indian defence establishment and provide the latest technological innovations for specific challenges experienced in operational environments through co-development and co-production of innovative solutions. The iDEX initiatives are executed by Defence Innovation Organisation, a Section 8 company of DPSUs BEL and HAL.

DIO has evolved and expanded the magnitude of its activities since its inception in 2018:

  • iDEX-DIO has launched three rounds of Defence India Startup Challenge (DISC) with 18 problem statements from Armed Forces, DPSUs&OFB and identified 55+ start-ups/ individuals to receive innovation grants in technological areas through the Prototype funding guidelines called "Support for Prototype and Research Kickstart" (SPARK), which entail provisioning of grants up to Rs 1.5 crore to the Startups on the basis of milestones through multiple tranches, for prototype development.
  • DIO has entered into a strategic partnership with leading incubators of the country and undergone international collaborations especially with Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) in the US.
  • For efficaciously taking forward the activities, DIO is hiring manpower, doing outreach, launched own website (www.idex.gov.in) & portal, launched 2 cycles of an open challenge for supporting suo-moto innovations, SPARK II guidelines and an internship program etc. along with promulgating elaborate guidelines and Standard Operating Procedures.
  • DDP has 9 Defence PSUs as pillars of defence production in the country and iDEX has enabled capacity building in DPSUs by seeding a culture of innovation and Research and Development.

The iDEX event successfully brought together the iDEX stakeholders on a single platform i.e. Ministry of Defence (MoD), iDEX selected startups, partner incubators, Defence Innovation Organisation (DIO), nodal agencies (Indian Army, Indian Navy, Indian Air Force), NITI Aayog, DRDO, DPSUs, OFB, think tanks, private industry and Industry associations. More than 500 startups and innovators participated in the event through video conference.

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