iDEX Officials Sign 100th Defense Innovation Contract with Pacify Medical Technologies Pvt Ltd in New Delhi
By Vikas Gupta
Trading Standard, July 27, 2022
In April 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a project named iDEX (Innovations for Defense Excellence), billed as the technological innovation flagship of the Ministry of Defense (MoD). iDEX was to encourage start-ups and provide them with a platform for co-creation and co-development in defense and aerospace technologies.
On Tuesday, iDEX signed its 100th contract in New Delhi with a company called Pacify Medical Technologies Pvt Ltd.
Speaking on the occasion, Defense Secretary Ajay Kumar said, “We are confident that iDEX will make India the largest defense innovation ecosystem in the world.”
On its website, iDEX is defined as: “An ecosystem to foster innovation and technological development in defense and aerospace by engaging innovators and entrepreneurs to deliver technologically advanced solutions to modernize the Indian military”.
iDEX is funded and operated by the Defense Innovation Organization (DIO), which is a “not-for-profit” company under Section 8 of the Companies Act 2013. Its founding members are the two largest companies defense public sector (DPSU): Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL).
“iDEX will operate as the executive arm of DIO, performing all required activities while DIO will provide high-level policy guidance to iDEX,” the iDEX website states.
“Thanks to these government actions, defense procurement spending from foreign sources, which previously accounted for 46% of overall spending, has been reduced to 36% over the past four years. that’s to say 2018-19 to 2021-22,” the Ministry of Defense told parliament on Monday.
Defense start-ups and micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) are encouraged to pitch technology solutions to functional issues that the military periodically raises as “challenges.”
Innovations deemed technologically viable are considered for funding and for the granting of an “acceptance of necessity” (AoN), which is entry into the Army’s potentially lucrative supply pipeline.
In just over four years, iDEX has sought to be a game changer in the defense acquisition ecosystem through high-profile programs such as the Defense India Start-up Challenges (DISC) and Prime and Open Challenges.
“DISCs are launched with Problem Statements (PS) from the Armed Forces and the Ordnance Factory/Defense Public Sector Enterprise Board (OFB/DPSU) for resolution by innovators,” the site says. Web iDEX.
The Open Challenges are aimed at the “next generation of Indian engineers, capable of developing technologies in autonomous systems, smart machines, advanced materials, predictive algorithms or even rocket engines, for the most sophisticated applications. in the fields of defense and aerospace”.
The iDEX Open Challenge is looking for their technological capabilities. “If you think you have an idea, technology, or product used in defense and aerospace, then iDEX Open Challenge is the right opportunity for you,” says the iDEX website.
Innovators, startups and MSMEs are encouraged to engage directly with the military through the iDEX Open Challenge and showcase what they have to offer. Selected applicants have the opportunity to apply to the iDEX Grand Jury and qualify for grants and investments.
Similarly, iDEX Prime (Sprint) offers innovators the opportunity to design and develop specific military equipment, such as boats for special forces, with the MoD paying half of the development costs, up to a cap of Rs 10. crore.
The technology development line of the defense budget has traditionally been allocated single or double digit amounts for these high-tech development projects. This year, however, in the 2022-23 capital budget, a substantial amount of Rs 1,365 crore has been allocated.
“So far, iDEX has launched iDEX Prime, seven rounds of DISC (including DISC SPRINT) and five rounds of OC, receiving over 4,000 applications from individual innovators, MSMEs and start-ups. More of Rs 250 crore projects have been allocated and procurement of 14 items worth more than Rs 400 crore has been authorized iDEX has also been able to generate thousands of jobs and attract Indian talent to the country,” the Department of Defense said in a statement on Monday.
Over the past four years, 17 start-ups across 14 projects have already been granted Acceptance of Requirement (AoN) by the Defense Acquisition Board (DAC) for testing and procurement. The remaining projects of DISC 1 & 2 and some of DISC 3 are nearing completion and can be granted AoN by DAC by the end of the current financial year.