Thursday, August 11, 2022

Indian Defence Startups Get A Shot In Arm With Novel IDEX Scheme; Major Boost For Make-In-India!

By Staff Correspondent

The Department of Defence Production, Ministry of Defence has approved a central sector scheme. Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) with budgetary support of Rs 498.78 crore for the next 5 years from 2021-22 to 2025-26.

The scheme’s objective is to provide financial support to nearly 300 Startups/MSMEs/individual innovators and about 20 Partner incubators through Defence Innovation Organisation (DIO).

Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) framework aims to achieve self-reliance and foster innovation and technology development in Defence and Aerospace Sector by engaging Industries including MSMEs, startups, individual innovators, R&D institutes and academia.

A total of 89 iDEX winners have so far been identified. 35 new problem statements have been launched to expand the network under Defence India Startup Challenge (DISC)-5.

Further, DRDO has also launched the DARE to DREAM contest and Technology Development Fund (TDF) scheme to promote startups.

(i) Dare to Dream is a Pan India Innovation Contest to support startups & innovators to contribute to the Defence ecosystem. DRDO has been conducting the Dare to Dream Contest since 2019. DRDO specifies various themes and invites innovative ideas under those themes.

Best views are selected and awarded. DRDO also supports awarded theses to realise them into Prototype through TDF scheme. Two versions of the Dare to Dream Contest have already been successfully conducted.

(ii) TDF Scheme is executed by DRDO under the ‘Make in India’ initiative. The Government has approved TDF Scheme to encourage industries, especially MSMEs and Startups, to develop various defence technologies. The scheme operates in Grants-in-Aid Mode.

The plan was launched in Sep 2016. At present, 37 projects have been awarded to multiple industries, especially MSMEs and Startups, under the TDF scheme.

Procedure for ‘Make-II’ category, which is Industry-funded, was introduced in DPP-2016 to encourage indigenous development and manufacture of defence equipment. It has several industry-friendly provisions such as relaxation of eligibility criterion, minimal documentation, the requirement for considering proposals suggested by industry/individual etc.

So far, 60 projects relating to Army, Navy & Air Force have been accorded ‘Approval in Principle.

The steps taken to strengthen Research and Development in defence manufacturing are as follows:

(i) Transfer of Technology (ToT) policy with ‘nil’ ToT fee for Development cum Production Partner (DcPP), Production Agency (PA) and Development Partner (DP) has been promulgated by DRDO. The industry charged no royalty for supply to Indian Armed Forces/Paramilitary/Police Forces. 2% royalty is charged for export and products for commercial markets.

(ii) DRDO promotes research by providing Grant-in-Aid funding to various Indian R&D institutions/Universities.

(iii) 10 Centers of Excellence (CoEs) are operational in various IITs/Universities across India for directed research in identified areas.

(iv) 108 technologies/products have been exclusively earmarked for R&D leading to product development by the Indian industry. DRDO provides the necessary support, including testing and certification, wherever necessary/applicable.

(v) DRDO patents have been made available to the Industry for use at ‘nil’ cost.

(vi) DRDO test facilities have been opened to the industry for testing their equipment products.

Further, the following policy initiatives have been undertaken by the Government to promote Defence Exports:

(i) Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the export of munitions list items has been simplified to reduce the processing time for export authorisations.

(ii) A completely end-to-end online portal for receiving and processing authorisation permission has been developed. The applications submitted on this portal are digitally signed, and the authorisations are also digitally issued.

(iii) An online portal has been created through which export leads received from various stakeholders are being disseminated directly to the Indian Defence Exporters registered on the portal.

(iv) The Government has notified the Open General Export License (OGEL) – a one-time export license, which permits the industry to export specified items to specified destinations, enumerated in the OGEL, without seeking export authorisation on case to case basis during the validity of the OGEL.

(v) A Scheme for Promotion of Defence Exports has been notified to provide an opportunity to the prospective exporters to get their product certified by the Government and provides access to the testing infrastructure of the Ministry of Defence for initial validation of the product and its subsequent field trials. The prospective exporter can produce the certificate for marketing their products suitably in the global market.

(vi) A separate Export Promotion Cell has been formed in the Department of Defence Production (DDP) to coordinate and follow up on export-related action, including enquiries received from various countries and facilitate private sector and public sector companies for export promotion.

(vii) Defence Attache (DA) Scheme for Export Promotion has been formulated under which funds are provided to DAs for export promotion of Indigenous defence products of both public and private sector.

(viii) DPSUs have been allocated certain countries to establish their marketing offices to have focused attention to encourage Defence exports in those countries.

(ix) Subject to strategic considerations, domestically manufactured defence products is being promoted through Lines of Credit. Defence Lines of Credit (LOCs) are extended to sovereign governments of Friendly Foreign Countries to enable buyers in those countries to import goods and services from India on attractive credit terms.

(x) A High-Level Committee (HLC) has been constituted under the Chairmanship of Raksha Mantri to facilitate faster clearances to the export of major indigenous defence platforms to Friendly Foreign Countries.

(xi) Webinars are being organised with Friendly Foreign Countries under the aegis of DDP, Ministry of Defence with active participation from Indian Defence Industries.

This information was given by Raksha Rajya Mantri Ajay Bhatt in a written reply to Ms Debasree Chaudhuri and Poonam Mahajan in Lok Sabha today.

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