Three years after the launch of Defence India Startup Challenge 1.0 (DISC), Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX), Defence Innovation Organisation (DIO) will launch DISC 5.0 in New Delhi on August 19.
iDEX provides a platform for different stakeholders in the defence and aerospace sectors, essentially acting as an umbrella organisation to oversee technology development and potential collaborations in the specific field. With initiatives such as DISC and Open Challenges, iDEX is able to utilise the strong science, technology and research talent base of the country to develop new capabilities in defence innovation. DISC 5.0 will have more challenges than the first four DISC editions taken together.
Problem Statements received from the Services and Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs) under DISC Round 5 will be launched by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, informed an official release by the Ministry of Defence.
iDEX had been designed to infuse the latest technology into military warfare closely intertwined with the needs of the Services and reduce dependence on imports, according to Secretary (Defence Production) Raj Kumar.
The problem statements by the services and DPSUs are designed to ensure military advantage in the foreseeable future. The winners receive grants up to Rs 1.5 crore from iDEX, along with support from partner incubators and guidance from the nodal officers who are the ultimate users.
The launch of DISC 5.0 will be a massive leap towards leveraging the startup ecosystem to develop India's defence technologies, equipment design and manufacturing capabilities. These challenges will also encourage startups to become more attuned to innovative concepts and inculcate the approach of creative thinking in India's budding entrepreneurs.
Additional Secretary, DDP and CEO, DIO Sanjay Jaju stated that the iDEX process has opened up a whole new ecosystem for Indian startups besides lending visibility to their work. He emphasised that in the long run, this would help these entities build credibility, and even corner foreign contracts.
iDEX features as a procurement avenue under the Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP-2020). Ministry of Defence has earmarked a total of Rs 1,000 crores for domestic procurement through iDEX initiative for the financial year 2021-2022.
Recently, the Raksha Mantri had approved a budget of Rs 498.8 crore for the next five years to support over 300 startups and foster innovation in the defence and aerospace sectors. These announcements have provided assurance of domestic procurement for the myriad of innovations and products being developed by young entrepreneurs while enabling India's defence sector to contribute significantly towards the 5 trillion dollar economy goal by 2025.