Defence Ministry increases DRDO’s Technology Development Fund scheme to ₹50 crore from ₹10 crore per project

The Defence Research and Development Organisation can now afford to invite domestic industries to develop complex technologies and systems, with the Defence Ministry enhancing funding under Technology Development Fund (TDF) scheme to ₹50 crore a project from ₹10 crore.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, said the ministry, has approved scaling up of the funding under the DRDO’s TDF scheme to widen support to indigenous development of components, products, systems and technologies by MSMEs and start-ups.

First notable technology developed through the TDF route pertains to ‘Video Processing & Switching Module’ and ‘Smart Multi-functional Display (SMFD)’ developed for the Indian Air Force, said a senior DRDO officer.

Both the technologies developed with the collaboration of indigenous industry partner, Logic Fruit Technologies from Gurugram will form the backbone of Su-30 avionics upgrade, explained the official .

For logistic management at high altitude posts, DRDO funded Raphae Mphibr Pvt Ltd, Noida, to manufacture a drone capable of carrying 20 kg payload at height greater than 1,500 feet. The high altitude drone developed in record time of 2 years under the same scheme has already received orders from the Army, stated DRO officials to cite another success story.

According to the DRDO, several other development projects including in aerospace and satellite, Mandarin to English translation software and sensors are in advance stages.

Under the scheme floated in 2016, the DRDO so far has funded 56 projects totalling ₹250 crores. The scheme facilitates up to 90 per cent of the total project cost and allows industry to work in consortium as well as academia. “With the enhanced funding, the industry and start-ups will be able to develop more complex technologies for existing and future weapon systems and platforms,” said the ministry.

The graded enhancement of funding, believe DRDO officials, has helped the domestic defence industry to mature. Till now, the DRDO could aide development of products to specification that was just helping in supply chain for manufacturing of larger systems.

The enhanced funding fulfils this year’s union budget commitment and will further boost the vision of ‘Atmanirbharta’ in defence, the ministry said. It may be recalled that 25 per cent of defence R&D budget was earmarked for private industry, start-ups and academia in the budget.