Defence India Startup Challenge 5.0 (DISC 5.0): Indian defence minister Rajnath Singh Thursday launched Defence India Startup Challenge (DISC) 5.0 under Innovations for Defence Excellence – Defence Innovation Organisation (iDEX-DIO). In this round, the government has shared 35 problems faced by Indian military and state owned defence companies that startups are required to solve.
While 13 problems from are given by Indian military and 22 problems have been shared by state owned defence companies.
Out of 35 problem statements or challenges identified for the fifth version of the defence startup challenge, 13 problems are shared by the services, Indian Army (5), Indian Air Force (3) and Indian Navy (5).
In case of 22 problems submitted by the public sector defence companies, state owned aircraft manufacturer HAL submitted highest number of problems. HAL sought solutions for the 9 problems faced by it. Shipbuilder GRSE shared 4 problems, Bharat Electronics Limited (3), Mishra Dhatu Nigam Limited (3), Hindustan Shipyard (2), and Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited shared one problem.
The problems faced by Indian military and state owned defence companies include problems related to situational awareness, augmented reality, artificial intelligence (AI), aircraft-trainer, non-lethal devices, 5G network, under-water domain awareness, drone SWARMS and data capturing.
The problem statements, designed to ensure military advantage in the foreseeable future, are the highest in any edition, so far.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh dubbed the fifth round of defence startup challenge as a reflection of the government’s resolve to create a self-reliant India in defence sector.
He said the challenge was to move forward from the earlier editions and take innovation, design and development to newer heights.
Startups solved 40 technological challenges
Rajnath said more than 80 startups, MSMEs and individual innovators have joined as winners in over 40 technological areas in the previous four editions of defence startup challenge.
“Modern and futuristic problem statements launched in DISC 5.0 demonstrate the confidence of young entrepreneurs and innovators in DISC,” said the minister.
Rajnath said iDEx was playing a crucial role by providing a platform to the government, services, think tanks, industry, startups and innovators so that all stakeholders can work together so that defence and aerospace sectors can realise full potential.
“Defence India Startup Challenge and Open Challenges provide many opportunities to our youth and entrepreneurs. They give a new direction to defence innovation and capabilities by highlighting the potential of India’s science, technology and research,” said the minister.
iDEX and iDEX4Fauji
Rajnath said iDEX4fauji was a similar initiative that gave an opportunity to the service personnel to showcase their talent in these fields.
Sharing his insights on the broad contours of iDEX, the defence minister said the initiative has succeeded in bridging the gap between talent and demand in the country.
“iDEX provides a strong foundation of innovation, R&D to the industry. Initiatives like iDEX form a link between our youth, academia, R&D, start-ups and the Armed Forces,” he added.
On the occasion, the minister listed out several measures taken by the government to promote innovation and research such as such as including iDEX as a procurement avenue under Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP-2020).
The measures also include allocation of Rs 1,000 crore for domestic procurement through iDEX for financial year 2021-2022 and approving a budget of Rs 498.8 crore for the next five years to support over 300 startups and foster innovation in defence and aerospace sectors.
Rajnath expressed confidence that iDEX will support five times more start-ups over the next five years as the aim is to accelerate progress, reduce costs and complete procurement in a time bound manner.
Raj Kumar, India’s top officer for defence production, said innovation and self-reliance were the two aspects of iDEX.
Kumar said India has the third largest startup ecosystem in the world and these startups are not just wealth creators but employment generators.
“Today the nature of warfare is technology-driven and these startups can play a crucial role in developing indigenous defence capabilities, reducing imports and improving exports,” added the top officer.
Defence India Startup Challenge 5.0
Three years after the launch of DISC 1.0 by iDEX-DIO, the government launched the DISC 5.0.
“The launch of DISC 5.0 is a massive leap towards leveraging the startup ecosystem to develop India’s defence technologies, equipment design and manufacturing capabilities,” the MoD said.
The MoD said it would encourage startups to become more attuned to innovative concepts and inculcate the approach of creative thinking in India’s budding entrepreneurs.
The iDEX initiative was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April 2018 to achieve self-reliance and foster innovation & technology development in defence and aerospace sectors.