Defense Minister bats for focus on cyber, space domains

Bengaluru: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said the indigenous technology was crucial for the country’s defence sector and there should be greater focus on cyber and space domains.

She said efforts have been made in the past to indigenize defence technology, but it was more of replication and more needs to be done.

After launching the ‘Defence India Startup Challenge’ at HAL convention centre on Saturday, she said, “It is a vibrant time for startups and we want to work closely with them and bring in innovative ideas and technology to ensure that we are on par and ahead when compared with other countries.”

She said her government has “underlined two critical decisions, the first one is that no start up will be disqualified on any aspect and they can approach us with any requirement or ideas and we will look into it. Secondly, we seek timely need of concept so that we can be effective on all fronts.”

“Several start ups think that the defence sector will not give them orders, but we have decided that we will look into the product and test it and give them the orders. We expect these start ups to pound us with ideas. We also need solutions to tackle issues related to cyber and space and it is important, we cannot be ignorant and not let anyone to use these both these domains against us,” she added.

This is the right time for the starts ups to showcase their skills and talents and we are here to support them, she concluded.

A number of initiatives to support the start ups in Defence sector are Support for Prototype and Research Kickstart (SPARK) in Defence, Farmework for iDEX partners and promotion of startups under Make-II procedure.

The projects with estimated cost of prototype development phase, not exceeding Rs 3 crore, have been reserved for start ups and no separate technical or financial criteria are defined to encourage their participation.

Start ups are also encouraged to propose projects suo motu, which if found suitable as per the criteria laid out for such proposals, would get advanced under the Make-II procedure.

During this event, five incubators, Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneur ship, IIM (Ahmedabad), Society for Innovation and Entrepreneur ship, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay, T-Hub, Hyderabad, FORGE – a branded incubation enterprise launched by the Coimbatore Innovation & Business Incubator (CIBI) and IIT Madras signed the MOUs with Defence Innovation Organisation and were given Certificates of Partnership for helping Ministry of Defence in discovery, exploration and mentorship of Startups/MSMEs to co create innovative defence technologies.

For the first time in the history of defence procurement that a firm Tonbo Imaging, Bengaluru was given a Certificate of Accord of ‘Approval in Principle’ for its suo motu proposal ‘Night Fire Control System for AGS-30’.

A panel discussion was also organised comprising representatives from incubators and startups and a few defence companies, on the theme ‘Making first unicorn in defence industry in India.’

The panelist pointed out to difficulties in processing the work at the defence offices and also the lack of trial space, because of which they have to send it to foreign countries. 

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