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'30% of startups working on defence projects are from Bengaluru'

Almost 30% of the startups working with the defence ministry to deliver cutting-edge technologies to Indian armed forces are from Bengaluru and their number is growing every year. This, according to Sanjay Jaju, joint secretary to the department of defence production, ministry of defence, is natural given the city's startup culture.

"Bengaluru is the startup hub of India and we have seen a huge number of city startups participating in the Defence India Startup Challenge held by the Defence Innovation Organisation (DIO)," Jaju told on the sidelines of the fourth edition of IIMBue Leadership Conclave.

Jaju was among the 14 speakers at the conclave hosted every year by the Alumni Association of IIM Bangalore (IIMBAA). On Friday, the first day of IIMBue, Jaju and Ankit Mehta, co-founder and CEO of ideaForge, a startup that specialises in Unmanned Aerial Vehicle technology, took part in a panel discussion on Innovation in Defence Technology and Make In India.

Jaju described DIO as a not-for-profit company that manages Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) launched by the government in April 2018. Under the iDEX scheme, the first Defence India Startup Challenge was organised in 2018 drawing 500-550 applications. Its second round saw 150 applicants. After both the rounds, 44 participants were selected to work on various defence projects and 30% of them were from Bengaluru.

DIO has also introduced a Defence Innovation Fund for startups to work on their ideas. "The ideas will be converted into technology, which will give us a product. The end is to make the product a military-grade one," Jaju said.

DIO and iDEX play the role of a bridge for civilian innovations to reach the armed forces. "The gap is a huge challenge not just in India but across the world. This is the government's attempt to solve it," Jaju said.

Ankit Mehta, a graduate from IIT-Bombay, said, "We have worked for security of Kumbh Mela, during the counter operations on ground and counter-insurgency operations in the red corridor of our country."

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