Defence Ministry challenges Indian startups to innovate

05th August 2018
Defence Ministry challenges Indian startups to innovate
Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman launches the Defence India Startup Challenge in Bangalore on August 4 2018

Bangalore, August 5 2018:  In a radical change from past practice, India's Defence Ministry  invited  startups to  help make the national self reliant in  military technology  and innovate for the future.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman  launched the Defence India Startup Challenge,  identifying  11  technologies  where it looked for innovation from  the micro enterprises who make India the world's second largest startup ecosystem.
She told a gathering of  200 startups, 50 MSMEs and 12 incubators, as well as uniformed  leadership of three wings of the armed forces:
"We have amended the required rules for startups. If you have an idea and you have tested it with us, we will not withdraw from the situation but we will give the orders. We are not going to disqualify startups in anything you want to approach us with. Whether it is a bid, tender or suo motu proposal. All three avenues are open for startups"
See the video clip of Defence Minister's remarks from  the
Doordardhan  TV coverage in our Tech Video spot on our  home page
Translating  words into action, the Defence Ministry's procurement  department   accorded approval in principal  yesterday, to  a proposal for a Night Fire Control System for the AGS- 30, a Russian origin grenade launcher, that emanated from the Bangalore -based Tonbo Imaging.
The 11 challenges posed to the startup community are: The challenges — Individual Protection System with built-in sensors; See-Through Armour; Carbon Fibre Winding (CFW); Active Protection System (APS); Secure hardware based offline Encrypt or Device for Graded Security; Development of 4G/LTE based Tactical Local Area Network; Development of Advanced Technology Based Desalination System (Water Purification) and Bilge Oily Water Separation System; Artificial Intelligence in Logistics; Remotely Piloted Airborne Vehicles; Laser Weapons and Unmanned Surface and Underwater Vehicles 
Said Sitharaman:  "Today unmanned drones with missiles on them are the envy of many countries. I already get the feeling that those are not beyound us to produce. You won't lose your skilled manpower if you can remote-control operations to finish your targets."
And she added a  few challenges of her own : addressing cyber warfare and Space-related defence.
In his introductory remarks, Secretary Defence Production and IIT alumnus,  Dr Ajay Kumar,  who is  known to be the driving force behind the outreach to startups, said: " Innovation is no longer the  monopoly of big companies."  He added that  under SPARK or Support for Prototype & Research Kickstart in Defence, each startup which qualified stood to receive a seed grant of Rs 15 million which would be free from most regulations  and would be routed through  partners of the iDEX or  Innovation for Defence Excellence.  A Defence Innovation Office would also be jointly steered by  defence public sector undertakings  BEL and HAL.
The event reflected the seriousness  that the armed services addressed the need to  tap the talents of Indian startups.  Presenting the specific challenges of their own arm of the service were the Vice Chiefs  Staff of  the three branches, Army ( Lt Gen Devraj Anbu), Navy (  Vice Admiral Ajit Kumar V) and AirForce ( Air Marshal S B Deo).
Useful links:
Innovation for Defence  Excellence
Defence Startup Challenge