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Rajnath launches startup challenge to find innovative ideas on 11 defence issues

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NEW DELHI (PTI):  Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday launched a startup contest under which innovators, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and startups have to find new ideas applicable to 11 specific challenges of the Indian defence sector.

Four of the 11 subjects of the Defence India Startup Challenge 4 (DISC4) are autonomous underwater swarm drones, foliage penetration radar, reduction of radar cross-section of naval warships and artificial intelligence based satellite image analysis and reduction, the Defence Ministry said in a statement.

If an idea of a startup, an innovator or an MSME is accepted by the ministry in DISC4, the entity would be given innovation grants by the ministry to develop the prototype.

The minister also launched product management approach (PMA) guidelines on Tuesday that will "steer the prototype development to a market ready product", the ministry noted.

It said the PMA guidelines will monitor product development milestones achieved by the startup challenge winners against the requirement set by the armed forces, the Ordnance Factory Board or defence public sector undertakings.

The statement said Singh also launched an initiative called iDEX4Fauji, which will support innovations identified by members of the Indian armed forces and will "bolster frugal innovation ideas from soldiers/ field formations".

"This iDEX4Fauji initiative will bolster frugal innovative ideas from soldiers and help to revolutionise the future of our Armed Forces," Singh said on Twitter.

"Our soldiers would not only have a thorough understanding of their own requirements but also have necessary support of innovators and startups," he added.

The defence minister said the iDEX4Fauji initiative will help connect entrepreneurs with the "grassroot level innovators" safeguarding our borders.

Apart from the aforementioned four challenges, the other challenges at DISC4 include topics such as predictive, preventive and prescriptive machine monitoring; super resolution for improving spatial resolution; prediction and forecasting of atmospheric visibility; computer generated targets for virtual training.

Some other challenges are remote real time in-flight health monitoring of aircrew; target detection in chaff environment; multi-frequency time-division multiple access based wideband SATCOM (satellite communication) modem.

After launching the DISC4 event virtually, the minister tweeted that the startup ecosystem and innovation enjoy a symbiotic relationship and they thrive in the other's presence.

"We need constant endeavour for innovation, evolution and sustenance of technological excellence in the armed forces through support of academia, innovators & startups," Singh added.

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