Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX), the flagship initiative of the Ministry of Defence, has signed its 250th contract – first under Mission DefSpace – and 100th SPRINT (Navy) contract in New Delhi on May 15. The contracts were signed in the presence of Defence Secretary Shri Giridhar Aramane and other senior civil & military officials.
Mission DefSpace for Micropropulsion
The first iDEX contract of Mission DefSpace was exchanged between Additional Secretary (Defence Production) & CEO Defence Innovation Organisation (DIO) T Natarajan and CEO, InspeCity Arindrajit Chowdhary, one of the winners of the challenge ‘Micropropulsion system for cubesats’. This challenge is being led by the Defence Space Agency.
Cubesats are a class of smallsats, which are modular; low-cost; easy to manufacture, integrate, and launch; and form a critical component for launch-on-demand capabilities. For imagery/Intelligence Surveillance, Reconnaissance and communication purposes, cubesats need to be precisely aligned, hence there is a requirement of a compact micropropulsion system for precise manoeuvring and orbit correction.
InspeCity is developing a gas-based system for this purpose. This technology, once developed, can be integrated with other satellites, including the cubesat swarm being developed under Mission DefSpace.
Building the strategic significance of the space domain, Prime Minister Modi launched Mission DefSpace with 75 Defence Space Challenges to be addressed by the private sector during DefExpo at Gandhinagar in October 2022.
It aims to nurture the Indian Private Space industry through challenges addressing every stage of a space mission – from mission planning to satellite data analytics.
100th SPRINT contract: ASIC
The 100th SPRINT (Navy) contract was exchanged between AS (DP) & CEO-DIO and CEO, Siliconia Technologies Sushil Eknath Ghule.
Siliconia Technologies is the winner of the Challenge which envisaged the development of a prototype that is a lightweight ASIC (Application-Specific Integrated Circuit) based communication system using a software-defined antenna for Low Earth Orbit, Medium Earth Orbit and Geostationary satellite communication.
The solution by Siliconia can provide multiple independent receiver/transmitter sources that are essential in phased-array radars, typically used in satellite tracking.
The ‘SPRINT’ initiative, a total of 75 Challenge statements for the Indian industry was unveiled during the Naval Innovation and Indigenisation Organisation (NIIO) seminar ‘Swavlamban’ on July 18, 2022. The initiative aims at inducting at least 75 technologies/products into the Indian Navy by August 2023.
The iDEX achieved the milestone of signing its 1st and 50th iDEX SPRINT contracts under DISC-7 in October 2022 and January 2023 respectively and within a few months the 100th SPRINT (Navy) contract was exchanged.
The iDEX has received more than 7,500 applications from individual innovators, MSMEs and start-ups under various categories of challenges like DISC, Prime and Open Challenge.
According to the MoD official, the iDEX is working to ensure that its agreements with the start-ups and innovators reach logical conclusions timely, eventually opening a myriad of options for the budding, soon-to-be unicorns and at the same time addressing the requirement of Services.
The iDEX framework was launched by the Prime Minister in 2018 with the objective to provide a platform for co-creation & co-development in the defence sector.
The iDEX is being implemented by DIO, established under the Department of Defence Production, MoD.