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Kerala Startups On Way to Make Defence Ecosystem Foray

Kochi: A high-level team of officials from the Defence Production will soon visit Maker Village, India’s largest electronic hardware incubator in Kochi, and that could pave the way for startups from Kerala to make their defence ecosystem foray.

Dr Ajay Kumar, Secretary, Defence Production, Government of India, revealed this during his discussions with Prasad Balakrishnan Nair, CEO, Maker Village.The discussions took place on the sidelines of the second edition of Hardtech 2019, a National Deeptech Startup Conclave organised by Maker Village.

Assuring that he will open the doors for startups to defence production, Dr Ajay Kumar said the visiting team will comprise officials from Army, Navy and Air Force.  

Earlier, addressing the gathering at the meet, Dr Kumar, said his office has, for the first time, been keenly watching startups for solutions of various kinds. “Startups are going to be an important part of our defence ecosystem. Users like Army and Air Force want them to identify problems and seek ways to resolve them,” he said on the concluding day of the April 5-6 meet at Kinfra Hi-Tech Park in Kalamassery.

He recalled that a Defence India Startup Challenge the government launched last August received 520 outstanding proposals from new companies, much to the encouragement of the plan to leverage defence startups and connect them with the armed forces.

“I want startups from Maker Village to feature in the list of next edition of the Defence India Startup Challenge,” he said. “It is high time startups explored sectors like aerospace and penetrate into new sectors.”

Earlier, Mr Ramanan Ramanathan, Mission Director, Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) under the NITI Aayog, emphasised the need for moulding a generation with scientific temper that would unleash an “irreversible trend of innovation” essential for the sustenance of startups. “If we need to make a global impact, we need to sow the seed at the school level,” he added.

The official noted that India has 2.5 million children getting access to the 8,700 Atal Tinkering Labs the AIM has set up across the country. “AIM expects 5,000 startups to come up in the next five years from 101 incubators that have been launched in various institutions across the country,” he said. 

The upcoming startups will give a boost to the country’s innovative capability,” Ramanathan said. “To trigger innovation in MSME, we will launch a project called ‘Arise’ in June.”

The other speakers at the forenoon sessions were Paul Lalley, Partner, Head of Product, BRINC; Prof D V R Seshadiri, ISB, Hyderabad; Dileep Krishnaswamy, Vice President, Jio Infocomm, and author-entrepreneur K Vaitheeswaran.

The two-day event featured 50 speakers who included senior government officials, leaders from global technology firms, entrepreneurs from across the country and the world, besides academicians from top universities around the world.

Hardtech ’19 also showcased live products by matured startups with cutting-edge technologies. They included the ones from Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad. The event also featured a technology expo displaying products of technology firms, service providers, vendors and products from SMEs and MSMEs from the technology space apart from those by startups.

The conclave coincided with the setting up of advanced/scaled-up prototyping and productisation facilities, commencement of Center of Excellence on Engineering Design and Simulation and the initiation of the operation of International Hardware Accelerator.

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