The growing tech hub for Indian defense technology!

We are currently living in an era known as the “techade” of India. New technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and data analytics have taken over all areas of the economy. This is also good news for India’s defense technology innovation.

Defense technology plays a pivotal role in the development of India in the new era. India is constantly striving to improve its internal and external security measures. Today, in addition to government initiatives, the country is home to nearly 200 tech start-ups that are building cutting-edge defense technology solutions. These innovations and their adoption will make India more resilient and secure.

The defense industry accounts for nearly 1.6% of India’s GNP and ranks third in one of the world’s largest ecosystems. With the support of the government and the implementation of new policy changes, Indian defense technology start-ups have shocked the world by making the most advanced and cost-effective products. The aerospace and defense industry is expected to be worth $70 billion by 2030, according to a recent report by consulting firm Maier+Vidorno.

Indian defense tech start-ups play an important role in building up paramilitary forces and aerospace technology, bringing innovation and working on R&D to improve technology. As our nation strives to achieve ‘aatma nirbhar’ or self-reliance, we are realizing Prime Minister Modi’s vision of a ‘New India’. In line with this, Maharashtra unveiled a defense and aerospace policy in 2018 aimed at attracting $2 billion in investment and creating 100,000 jobs. Under the policy, the government plans to set up defense centers in Pune, Nagpur, Ahmednagar, Nashik and Aurangabad. The policy helps anchor units to promote economic development by incentivizing public sector enterprises that provide working capital to MSMEs in the sector.

For defense and technology development, Maharashtra has been one of the preferred destinations because of its easy access to skilled human resources and environmental sustainability. Through the ‘Make in Maharashtra’ initiative, the government has established MAITRI, which will have a single approval system for the state government to approve aerospace and defense units. Maharashtra has been successful in IT/ITeS, food processing, textiles, engineering and many other fields. The large presence of these industrial units is slowly paving the way and establishing an ecosystem that will help support the development of aerospace and defense manufacturing units. The renowned Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO), based in Pune, Maharashtra, was established to build world-class weapons systems, design and develop them for the Armed Forces.

Now, nearly 56 military tech start-ups offer new-age defense technologies across a wide range of fields. As the next step in the defense tech revolution, Maharashtra startups are building some of the most home-grown technologies:

  1. Drone for Aerial Surveillance – It is the first and only portable autonomous drone with resupply and airdrop capabilities.
  2. Vision Processing System – This product provides real-time interpretation of the battlefield, combining advanced imaging and sensor technology, it also has day and night vision.
  3. Wound Care Products Based on Biopolymer Platform – It offers hemostatic dressings based on bioactive microfiber gel technology.
  4. Robotics Solutions – Its unified operating system helps manage connected robots across multiple departments.
  5. Video Surveillance Systems – It provides high-end electro-optical surveillance systems to defense and aerospace organizations
  6. Combat Weapon Systems – These tanks are built for integration with engines, transmissions, hybrid combat armor and anti-drone defense systems for combat interfaces.

With India taking the lead in moving towards Aatmanirbhar Bharat, what is driving the mission is the approval of the Make II project. This includes indigenously built infantry training weapon simulators and drone kill systems. Maharashtra is one of the most industrialized states in India and the government of Maharashtra has been actively implementing policies and reforms to improve India’s status in the World Bank. India is the largest arms importer and start-ups undoubtedly play a vital role in helping India become self-reliant in defense technology.

(The author is a Special Duty (OSD) Officer to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra)

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