Kochi: The Union government has selected Maker Village here as a partner for its iDEX programme that pursues an innovative defence ecosystem thus facilitating the country's largest hardware deep-tech incubator to create solutions for the armed services.
iDEX or Innovations for Defence Excellence gives innovators the strength to serve defence needs by funding and hand-holding them.
The Defence Innovation Organisation (DIO) under the Ministry of Defence chose Maker Village as a partner of the programme that also facilitates customer engagement, a Maker Village statement said here on Tuesday.
Maker Village CEO Prasad Balakrishnan Nair received the memorandum of understanding (MoU) from his DIO counterpart Sanjay Jaju, who is also the joint secretary, Ministry of Defence Production.
Present at the function in New Delhi was Minister of State for Defence Shripad Yesso Naik, among others, it said.
The ceremony at Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra was part of the 3rd edition of Defence India Startup Challenge, which was launched by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday, the release said.
The MoU function was attended also by NITI Ayog CEO Amitabh Kant, Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar and Subhash Chandra, Secretary, Defence Production, besides Lieutenant General Manoj Mukund Naravane, Vice Admiral G S Pabby and Air Marshal Harjit Singh Arora of the three armed forces.
iDEX, launched in April last year, primarily strives for an ecosystem fostering innovation and technology in the areas of defence and aerospace.
Startups are among the enterprises made eligible under the programme that gives grant and other support for R&D solutions of potential adoption.
The Maker Village CEO described the iDEX selection as a milestone for the pioneering startup initiative founded in February 2015 under the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, with Indian Institute of Information Technology as the host institute.
The agreement gives us an opportunity to join more defence-related endeavours, Nair said, noting that iDEX provides the selected startups access to the defence markets besides grants of upto Rs 1.5 crore.
It will encourage young entrepreneurs from our ecosystem to propose new ideas and platforms that benefit the armed services, he added.
Nearly 10 startups at Maker Village are working with the defence establishment at present. Three of them had won the earlier edition of iDEX challenge and are developing their products, while an equal number of startups have supplied products to DRDO labs. Two others are working with innovations related to national security.
Around 75 startups with cutting-edge technologies have been incubated at Maker Village, which functions at the Integrated Startup Complex in Kalamassery near here.
The National Physical and Oceanographic Laboratory (NPOL) under the Defence Ministry's DRDO has, for instance, bought the pioneering underwater drones of IROV Technologies at the Maker Village.
As India's first indigenously-developed compact machine of its kind, they are used to detect submerged structures or objects and can perform real-time analysis of the data, thus providing immense help to ascertain the extent of damage of underwater structures after a flood.