In what could be a boost to growing startups ecosystem, the Defence Ministry has announced Rs 500 crore plan to fund startups working to create products and solution for the defence sector.
The ministry plans to fund 250 startups and achieve 50 tangible innovations in the next five years to boost govt’s ‘Make in India’ program in the defence arms production.
Govt aims to support startups and MSMEs to help it achieve self-reliance in the defence sector.
“India will emerge as an exporter of defence technologies and it can be achieved through ideation, innovation and incubation in cutting-edge technologies”, said Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who announced the third phase of Defence India Startup Challenge (DISC) under iDEX, an initiative to boost innovation in the defence manufacturing sector.
He further stressed on the need to bolster India defence manufacturing and its research and development.
The move would serve as an encouragement for Indian startups. In terms of R&D, India is still far behind, with a slow pace in patent filings, in comparison to the developed nations.
In April last year, the govt had launched iDEX (Innovation for Defence Excellence) initiative. The Ministry of Defence had also started the ‘Defence India Startup Challenge’ in partnership with Atal Innovation Mission.
Last year, the then Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has invited startups to solve defence challenges in laser weaponry, see-through armour, unmanned surface, and underwater vehicles, and AI in logistics. Through the challenge, the govt aimed to create functional prototypes of products relevant for national security, and spur fast-moving innovation in the India defence sector and using new tech find the market and early customer.
Besides, the Govt is also inviting startups with new ideas or products, that can be used for military purposes, in India Pavilion DefExpo 2020.
Startups already working in the defence sector include ideaForge, Tonbo, VizExperts CRON Systems and Aadyah Aerospace.