60 companies under DISC Given Grants of up to Rs 1.5 Crore Each: Defence Minister at ‘Start-up Manthan’

Aero India 2021

Bengaluru: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said 60 winners out of more than 1,200 start-ups and innovators which participated in Defence India Start-up Challenge (DISC) have received grants of up to Rs 1.5 crore each to build prototypes.

In his address at the Start-up Manthan organised on February 5 at Aero India 2021 in Bengaluru, he announced that 45 MSMEs participating in Aero India had already received orders worth Rs 203 crore. The annual flagship event was organised on the final day of Aero India 2021. The Minister asked Ministry officials to consider increasing the finance available to Innovation for Defence Excellence (iDEX) start-ups.

Singh applauded India’s ambitious start up programme which was started to harness the young talent and entrepreneurship on the clarion call of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He said that Start Up India was based on three pillars – Simplification and Handholding, Funding and Incentives and Incubation and Industry-Academia Partnerships. He applauded the success of Start-up India in creating an ecosystem of more than 41,000 start-ups, 4.7 lakh jobs and Rs 4,500 crore of investment in 384 start-ups through Fund of Funds Scheme.

The Minister spoke of steps taken by the government to give a push to start ups in the defence manufacturing system such as opening up the patents and laboratories of DRDO to private industry, setting up of Young Scientists labs in niche technology areas, programmes like iDEX, Defence India Start-up Challenge (DISC), iDEX4Fauji. He said the latest version of Defence Acquisition Procedure 2020 allows start-ups to participate in Make in India forums and reserves projects up to Rs 100 crore for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

Singh said that iDEX initiative is a decisive step towards achieving self-reliance and is one of the most effective and well-executed defence Start-up ecosystems in the true spirit of the Atmanirbhar Bharat.

Speaking on the aerospace sector, he said 300 plus start-ups are currently engaged and iDEX 10 start-ups have developed products worth Rs 100 Crore which have been displayed in Aero India 2021.

Singh also highlighted iDEX4Fauji as an initiative providing opportunities to innovate to the Indian Armed Forces. He further said that iDEX4Fauji opens up a new window allowing Indian soldiers and service personnel to be recognised and rewarded as innovators. He mentioned the innovations done in the field of Robotics in Maritime applications by Lt. Deepak Suman Kumar and wall penetrating Radar by Major Anoop Mishra as examples.

Speaking of the iDEX Open Challenge, he said the initiative creates opportunities for innovators to propose ways to harness technological capabilities and strengthen the nation’s military capability. He hoped that the annual flagship event of Start-up Manthan becomes a milestone in start-up engagement in defence.

Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar applauded the growth of the start-up ecosystem and identified the importance of developing standards for its sustainability in future. He said start-ups in India had treated the challenge of COVID-19 as an opportunity with funding of over Rs two lakh crore in 2020. India has shown with innovations such as vaccine development, that it is among the leading innovative countries. This changed the confidence profile of Indian youth, which is on display at iDEX, he added.

Earlier, Secretary (Defence Production) Raj Kumar briefed the gathering about the iDEX process and the measures taken by the Department of Defence Production, Ministry of Defence to promote start up culture and self-reliance in defence. He said that iDEX had been designed to infuse the latest technology into military warfare closely intertwined with the needs of services and to reduce dependence on imports.

The Minister handed over Certificates of recognition to innovators under iDEX4Fauji and DISC 4 challenges at the event.

Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Deputy Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Shantanu Dayal, other senior civil and military officials of Ministry of Defence were present on the occasion. Armed Forces personnel and representatives from start-ups, MSMEs also attended the event.

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