BENGALURU: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday launched an initiative to invite startups to provide solutions to “11 challenges.” She launched initiatives aimed to support startups to increase indigenous production of equipment used by the defence forces. She said, “Indigenisation has been our priority, but the ideas remained elsewhere.” She said the ministry has taken a decision to not disqualify any startup from bidding for projects. Addressing startups, she said, “You have never had it better. It is up to you to pound us with ideas and shout if we do not respond.”
The SPARK (Support for Prototype and Research Kickstart) initiative launched will enable calling for proposals to address the technological needs of the ministry. Applicants showing promise to be able to produce functional prototypes or to productise existing technologies will be awarded up to `1.5 crore.
As part of the “iDEX Partners” initiative, iDEX, an accelerator, will work with innovation entities like existing incubators and to help in the exploration of startups or MSMEs. Under the “Make-II” procedure, projects with estimated cost of prototype development phase below `3 crore have been reserved for startups and no separate technical/ financial criteria are defined to encourage their participation. Startups are also encouraged to propose projects suo moto which, if found suitable, would get advanced under the Make-II procedure.
Five incubators, including those at IIM-Ahmedabad, IIT-Bombay and IIT-Madras signed MoUs with Defence Innovation Organisation, a company formed to engage industries.
The vice-chiefs of all three defence services were also present.