New Delhi: Defence minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday approved an amount of nearly Rs 500 crore to boost research and innovation in the defence sector, a statement from the ministry said.

The Central government approved a budgetary support of Rs 498.8 crore to Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) - Defence Innovation Organisation (DIO) for the next five years.

The defence ministry said, “The budgetary support will provide a big boost to the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi as iDEXDIO has the primary objective of self-reliance and indigenisation in defence & aerospace sector of the country.”

This is part of a scheme to promote innovations after the creation of the iDEX framework and establishment of the DIO by the Department of Defence Production (DDP).

Aim of The Scheme

The scheme, with budgetary support of Rs 498.8 crore for the next five years, is aimed at providing financial support to nearly 300 start-ups, individual innovators, micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and 20 partner incubators under the DIO framework.

It is aimed at creating an ecosystem to foster innovation and technology development in defence and aerospace by engaging industries, including MSMEs, start-ups, individual innovators, R&D institutes and academia.

The scheme is also aimed at providing them grants or funding and other support to carry out R&D development which has good potential for future adoption for Indian defence and aerospace needs.

The scheme will support increased awareness in the Indian innovation ecosystem about defence needs and, conversely, in the Indian Defence establishment about the potential of the Indian innovation eco-system to deliver innovative solutions to meet their needs.

Creating A Culture of Engagement With Innovative Start-Ups

The DIO, with its team, will enable the creation of channels for innovators to engage and interact with the Indian Defence production industry. The long-term effect to be realised by the group is the establishment of a culture, where enlisting the effort of innovators by the Indian military is commonplace and frequent.

The scheme aims to facilitate rapid development of new, indigenised and innovative technologies for the Indian defence and aerospace sector to meet their needs in shorter timelines.

Simultaneously, the scheme also aims to create a culture of engagement with innovative start-ups to encourage co-creation for defence and aerospace. Along with that, the scheme is also envisaged to empower a culture of technology co-creation and co-innovation within the defence and aerospace sector and boost innovation among the start-ups and encourage them to be a part of the ecosystem.

How DDP Will Function

The DDP will release funds to DIO for setting up and managing the iDEX network in the form of Partner Incubators (PIs).

DIO will also use the funds to communicate with innovators, start-ups, and technology centres of MSMEs through the PIs including the PIs of Department of Science and Technology regarding defence and aerospace needs.

DIO will also organise various challenges and hackathons to shortlist potential technologies and entities and evaluating technologies and products developed by innovators and start-ups in terms of their utility and impact on the defence and aerospace setup.

The other activities that DIO can set up include enabling and funding pilots using innovation funds dedicated to the purpose, interfacing with the Armed Forces top brass about key innovative technologies and encouraging their adoption into the defence establishment with suitable assistance, as well as facilitating scale-up, indigenisation and integration in manufacturing facilities for successfully piloted technologies and organising outreach activities all across the country.