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India to set up innovation fund to give impetus to defence startups

STORY: India’s Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Tuesday (February 14) announced the creation of Defence Innovation Fund to support startups looking to contribute to the sector.

Parrikar was addressing a gathering of defence representatives from over 30 countries at the inauguration of the five-day Aero India 2017 – billed as Asia’s largest air show – in the technology hub of Bangaluru.

“To develop innovation and R&D, we are initiating a Defence Innovative (Innovation) Fund with an initial contribution from HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) and BEL (Bharat Electronics Limited). The fund will support innovation and technology development in identified areas and will be open to both Indian and foreign industries. The focus will be on startups to enable a culture of innovation,” said Parrikar.

He added that the defence PSUs (public sector undertaking) and Ordnance Factories (Board) had been given strict targets to increase their outsourcing and vendor development in the country.

Government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has vowed to end the military’s dependence on imports that have made it the world’s largest buyer, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

For decades India relied on the former Soviet Union to supply planes, ships and artillery.

Then it turned to Western manufacturers including France, United Kingdom and in recent years Israel and the United States for expensive combat planes, missiles and surveillance planes.

The Indian air force alone needs 200-250 fighters over the next 10 years, its former chief Arup Raha said before he left office in December. Negotiating arms contracts with India can take years.

Reportedly, around 270 Indian and 279 foreign firms are participating in the air show.

Aero India 2017 provides a platform in bolstering business opportunities in Iiternational aviation sector.

The air show, being held at Yelahanka Air Force Station, will conclude on February 18.

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