On April 22, 2022, Union Minister of Defence Rajnath Singh inaugurated DefConnect 2.0, a celebration of the growth of the Indian defence start-up ecosystem, in New Delhi (Delhi), with the objective of attracting innovators and investors from India’s leading industries in the defence sector.
During the occasion, he has launched ‘Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) Prime’ and the 6th Defence India Start-up Challenge (DISC 6) with 38 Problem Statements.
- The iDEX-Prime is designed at supporting projects in the ever-growing defence start-ups that require support above Rs 1.5 crore up to Rs 10 crore.
The event was organized by Innovations for Defence Excellence, Defence Innovation Organisation (iDEX-DIO), under the aegis of Department of Defence Production (DDP), Ministry of Defence.
- On the occasion, the third edition of the Innovate4Defence internship (i4D) was also launched, inviting applications from students all over India.
- DefConnect 2.0 also saw the release of a DIO e-Brochure and the “Runway for Innovations” e-Coffee Table Book.
DefConnect 2.0 – Showcase of Technological Prowess of India
DefConnect will present a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for iDEX-DIO-affiliated defence innovators to showcase their capabilities, products, and cutting-edge technologies to the targeted audience of industry leaders.
- This opens up the possibility of future investments and operations for the related start-ups.
In 2018, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi launched the Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX), an operational framework of the Defence Innovation Organization (DIO), a special-purpose vehicle under the Department of Defence Production, Ministry of Defence.
Advantages of Defence India Start-up Challenge (DISC):
i.Apart from the three services (Army, Navy, and Air Force) and some Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs) that participated in earlier editions, the DISC 6 with 38 Problem Statements witnessed the participation of newly created seven defence companies, the Indian Coast Guard, and Ministry of Home Affairs for the first time.
- The Problem Statements, which aim to develop solutions in the modern era, cover topics such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Advanced Imaging, Sensor Systems, Big Data Analytics, Autonomous Unmanned Systems, and Secured Communication etc.,
ii.Platforms like the iDEX enable the armed forces to identify revolutionary solutions to complicated problems through flagship programmes like the Defence India Startup Challenges (DISC) and Open Challenges (OC), which will be essential in the future.
iii. Furthermore, through its Grant-in-Aid framework, Support for Prototype and Research Kickstart (SPARK), iDEX has been able to fund projects in a number of technological areas, allowing budding entrepreneurs to receive grants of up to Rs 1.50 crore.
iDEX: A Game-Changer for India’s Defence Ecosystem
i.The Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) programme is a game-changer in the defence eco-system, with the goal of encouraging innovation and swiftly incorporating cutting-edge and disruptive technology into the Indian Armed Forces.
- It was established under the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) overarching mission and has achieved self-reliance and indigenization in the defence ecosystem.
Steps Taken by The Government of India to Strengthen Domestic Defence Ecosystem:
As Defence manufacturing is key for India to become a manufacturing hub, The Indian government is taking a number of efforts to harness the potential of start-ups to solve future problems, including
- To promote ‘Aatmanirbhar (self-reliant) Bharat,’ the government has set aside 68% of the capital procurement budget for domestic procurement.
- The recent announcement of the third positive indigenisation list of 101 items, as well as reserving 25% of the defence R&D budget for private business and start-ups.
- During the event, the winners of the DISC 5, Open Challenge (OC 2 and 3) were also honoured.
- A static exhibition of start-ups funded by iDEX-Defense Innovation Organisation (iDEX-DIO) was also displayed, with the goal of inspiring budding entrepreneurs.
- The Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Public Administration 2021 was granted to the Department of Defence Production (DDP) for the iDEX initiative in the ‘Innovation (General) – Central’ category.
About Ministry of Defence:
Minister of Defence (MoD) – Rajnath Singh (Lucknow constituency, Uttar Pradesh)
Departments under MoD – Department of Defence (DoD); Department of Military Affairs (DMA); Department of Defence Production (DDP); Department of Defence Research and Development (DDR&D); Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare (DESW)