Startups get a Chance to Cater to Needs of Armed Forces
Kochi: The third edition of Defence India Startup Challenge (DISC 3) got underway at Maker Village near Kochi recently, giving innovators a rare opportunity to engage directly with the armed forces and showcase their technologies.
DISC 3 is being held under the Innovation for Defence Excellence (iDEX) programme of which Maker Village is a partner, having been chosen recently as an official partner of the Defence Innovation Organisation (DIO) under the Union Government.
Rear Admiral R J Nadkarni, Chief of Staff, Southern Naval Command, inaugurated the Defence India Startup Challenge, while D V Swamy, Development Commissioner, Cochin Special Economic Zone (CSEZ), launched the Defence India Open Challenge.
The event was attended by a team of 15 senior officers representing Kochi-headquartered Southern Naval Command, the Army and the Air Force besides top officials associated with iDEX. Also present were deep-tech startups from across Kerala and industry representatives.
Hailing the quality of startups at Maker Village, Rear Admiral Nadkarni said the companies are leveraging state-of-the-art technologies. “Of late, we are moving towards indigenisation in all spheres,” he said at the function held at the Integrated Startup Complex at Kalamassery. “There are certain technologies which nobody in the world would like to part with. A programme like the iDEX can thus be of immense benefit to the nation. It also boosts employment opportunities in the country,” he said.
Nadkarni invited domestic companies to contribute towards the requirements of the defence sector. “Confidence is the hallmark of a successful entrepreneur, who will never wilt under difficulties,” he added.
D V Swamy, in his speech, applauded the initiative to encourage innovators in the field of defence. “There are two challenges India faces: improving economic complexity index and quickening the pace of technologies required to strengthen defence capabilities,’’ he said.
Speaking on the occasion, Prasad Balakrishnan Nair, CEO, Maker Village described iDEX as a unique venture to “marry two seemingly contradictory” establishments. “While defence is synonymous with discipline, an ecosystem like Maker Village usually works amid random bouts of creativity. Yet both can be congruent, as you see here in iDEX. It is a giant leap,” he said in his welcome address.
Akhil Pratap Singh, Programme Officer, iDEX proposed the vote of thanks.
The visiting defence team later went around the facility and viewed the products made by the startups at Maker Village.
The objective of iDEX is to facilitate rapid development of indigenised and innovative technologies for the Indian defence and aerospace sectors.
For the innovators, DISC 3 throws up three specific challenges — one each from Navy, Army and Air Force. In addition, iDEX also throws up the Defense India Open Challenge. Both give a chance to anybody with an idea, technology or a product to explore or employ its use in the defence sector. Innovators, startups and MSMEs can engage directly with the armed forces through the open challenge to showcase their technologies facilitated by DIO and partner incubators such as Maker Village.
Apart from product development support, iDEX offers a grant of
Rs. 1.5 crore to select startups. DK