The Ministry of Defence (MoD) on 13 June announced the approval of budgetary support of Rs 498.8 for research and innovation in the domestic defence sector for the next five years. The fund has been allocated to the iDEX-Defence Innovation Organisation (DIO) to boost self-reliance and indigenisation of the defence and aerospace sector of the country. The scheme is in line with the government’s push to cut imports of military equipment and weapons and make India a hub for defence manufacturing.
Approving the budget, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said the funds will be used to provide financial support to nearly 300 start-ups, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and individual innovators under the DIO framework with a larger goal of ensuring self-reliance in the defence sector.
According to the MoD statement, 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, start-ups, individual innovators, R&D institutes and academia and provide them grants/funding and other support to carry out R&D development which has good potential for future adoption for Indian defence and aerospace needs.
The DIO will enable the creation of channels for innovators to engage and interact with the Indian defence production industry. 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 statement says.
The DDP 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 the Department of Science and Technology regarding defence and aerospace needs.
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, the statement listed the activities of the scheme.