huddle global: Kerala startups yet to grab openings in defence, aerospace: Experts at Huddle Global

Kerala-based startups are yet to take full advantage of immense opportunities in defence and aerospace sectors, which have gone up manifold after the launch of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ initiatives, panelists said at a session at Huddle Global 2023.

Initiating the discussion, the CEO of Technopark, Col Sanjeev Nair (Retd), noted that homespun startups of Kerala have not leveraged the opportunities thrown up by the iDEX Scheme, which was launched by Ministry of Defence (MOD) to promote, support and onboard innovative solutions in this critical sector.

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A flagship scheme of the MOD, iDEX is funded and managed by Defence Innovation Organisation (DIO) to create an ecosystem to foster innovation and technology development in defence and aerospace by engaging industries, including MSMEs, startups, individual innovators, R&D institutes and academia.

“The scheme is backed by grants and various other supports. The number of Kerala startups that have taken advantage of this flagship project, however, is very less,” Nair noted.

With the country pursuing a proactive approach to achieve self-reliance in critical domains, startups can take the best advantage of the entire ecosystem that has been created to acquire innovative solutions and technologies in the defence sector, Group Captain Saurabh Shiv of the Indian Air Force (IAF) said.

“IAF, for instance, is looking for indigenously developed solutions that will enhance self-reliance and capacity. Challenge is available, funding is available. The ball is in your court. Please rise up,” he further said, exhorting the nascent companies to foray into the defence sector.

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Rajaguru Nathan K, Director, Astromedia Space Pvt Ltd, recalled his company’s journey with iDEX scheme after starting off as a space-medicine startup. Meanwhile, participants in a discussion on “Corporate Innovation and Scaling up with startups”, said corporate entities are ready to engage with dedicated and hardworking startups with right ideas that resonate with their business requirements.

They converged on the view that startups aspiring for corporate support and collaboration to scale up their ventures should first have a thorough understanding of the problems they are addressing and how their solutions are going to address those problems to reduce the customer pain-points.

The panelists, who shared their experience of engaging with startups, insights and perspectives, also noted that in the present-day world, it would not matter where a startup is located so long as the solutions they come up with meet the demands of the businesses.

Rishabh Ganeriwala, Vice-President, Business Strategy & Innovation, Hitachi Payment Services, Jyoti Pahadsingh, the VP-Head of Innovation Practice, Societe Generale Global Solutions Centre, Sweta Aggarwal, Assistant Vice President-Innovation, Aditya Birla Group and George Paul, Strategic Alliances and Partnership, Jio GenNext, participated in the discussion, moderated by Vijetha Shastry, Associate Director, Standard Chartered Bank.

The November 16-18 fifth edition of Huddle Global, India’s biggest beachside startup conclave, was organised by Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) at Adimalathura beach, near Vizhinjam, here. KSUM is the Kerala government’s nodal agency established in 2006 for entrepreneurship development and incubation activities in the state.

Attended by around 1,500 delegates, the event displayed sophisticated products from emerging sectors such as robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, life sciences, space tech, blockchain, IoT, e-governance, fintech, healthtech, agritech, edutech and SaaS from across the country.