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India approves ‘innovation' funding

The Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has approved funding of INR5 billion (USD68.3 million) to support the growth of indigenous defence technology innovation. The MoD said on 13 June that the funding will be made available over the next five years to nearly 300 small businesses through the government's Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) initiative.

It added that the funding will benefit both small businesses and the Indian military as they “increase awareness” about the capabilities and requirements of each other.

The MoD established iDEX in 2018, with the aim to facilitate the rapid development of “new, indigenised, and innovative” defence technologies, and to encourage closer co-operation between local small firms and the Indian military.

Since its launch, the iDEX scheme has set a number of funded challenges for local firms to develop technologies related to stealth, artificial intelligence, imagery, autonomous unmanned systems, identification systems, anti-jamming devices, data analytics, and active protection systems.

Earlier this year, iDEX also launched an “open challenge” to encourage innovation across any defence technology segment.

The iDEX scheme is funded and managed by the Defence Innovation Organisation (DIO), which has been set up by the government as a ‘not for profit' company.

The DIO is initially being supported by India's two largest state-owned defence production enterprises, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), although over time other public corporations in the defence sector will also be expected to participate and submit funding.

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