NEW DELHI: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has accorded approval to allow private firms to compete with ordnance factories and defence PSUs for the Raksha Mantri''s Awards for Excellence, officials said Tuesday.

The move will give a major boost to the ''Make in India'' initiative, according to a Defence Ministry statement.

"This is a significant departure from the past wherein only OFB units and DPSUs (defence public sector units) competed only among each other for the Annual Raksha Mantri's Awards, and the private sector industry was not eligible for any national level award competition," it said.

The defence minister has accorded approval to allow private companies to compete with ordnance factories and DPSUs for the award, the statement said.

The revised format includes awards in institutional, and individual and team category for excellence in technological breakthroughs; indigenisation or import substitution; and excellence in exports, it said.

Separate sub-categories for large, medium, small and start-up segments have been included to provide a level playing field in the competition, according to the statement.

The amount of cash award has also been significantly increased in case of individual and team awards, it said.

The nominations for the awards will be invited online and a web portal will be developed for uploading and the management of applications.

"The selection process will include assessment by an expert committee/jury of eminent experts. A separate cell for handling all activities pertaining to Raksha Mantri''s Awards will be opened under the Director General of Quality Assurance (DGQA)," the statement said.

It is expected that this move will facilitate widening and deepening of industrial base in the defence and aerospace sector by identifying "hidden gems and wider recognition of outstanding Indian firms among national and international customers", it said.

"It is also expected to provide a boost to export potential of Indian defence industry, especially for MSME and start-up firms, by publicising their outstanding achievements at the global level," the statement said.