Launch of an innovation policy to encourage start-ups in the rail sector

In order to promote private sector research and development (R&D) for the modernization of the railway network, but also to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation, Indian Railways has launched an innovation policy for startups to join forces to the common carrier.

Considering the major constraint of insufficient capital in the startup ecosystem, mainly at the stage of seed and “proof of concept” development, this policy aims to provide the necessary support to the seed fund. , up to Rs 1.5 crore (based on matching contribution), to startups showing the ability, intent and promise to produce working prototypes, based on innovative new concepts, for potential use on Indian Railways.

The policy provides an enabling framework to encourage Indian innovators, startups, entrepreneurs, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), R&D institutions and technology developers to engage with Indian Railways for the development of innovative technological solutions for railways.

Financial support for entrepreneurs or innovators, in the form of a project grant on a matching contribution basis, has also been provided for in the policy.

The selection process for innovation partners will be executed online in an open, fair and transparent manner via a dedicated portal, which is expected to be activated by the end of April 2022.

The intellectual property created during product/technology development will belong to the innovators/startups, which will provide them with leverage and flexibility to engage with stakeholders when commercializing their products or technologies.

Various Indian government initiatives such as Startup India, Atal Innovation Mission, Make in India – Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan, Innovations for Defense Excellence, etc. provide a conducive framework to motivate and encourage Indian entrepreneurs and innovators to come forward for the development of innovative technologies, products and technological solutions to meet the needs of various sectors in the country.

This will encourage startups to partner with railways to work together to create knowledge (intellectual property) and innovative products for Indian Railways, a senior official at the Ministry of Railways has said.

This would create a platform for all stakeholders to contribute in the development technique of Indian Railways.

The railways would support, through seed funding, the proof of concept stage. This would be followed by a limited assured order.

Creating knowledge in the country makes the whole proposition economically viable and also suitable for exporting the content.

This would help to develop cost-effective, implementable and scalable solutions, functional prototypes and innovative products to solve problems related to quality, reliability and maintainability of Indian Railways and improve them through specific use of the products developed and innovative solutions. by the railways, the official said.

By leveraging innovative new technologies, developed by entrepreneurs and startups to improve operational efficiency and safety in the railway sector, the railways will foster a “culture of innovation” in the country for co -creation and co-innovation in the sector.

India is experiencing exponential growth in the technology sector. Industry products and solutions, developed by industry and entrepreneurs using emerging and evolving next-generation technology tools such as the Internet of Things, big data analytics, cloud computing, drones, MEMS, composites and shape memory alloys, are now widely used by various sectors in the country.

With the aim of harnessing the technological, economic and operational advantages offered by innovative and emerging next-generation technologies, and also to promote the start-up culture in the country, Indian Railways intends to engage with entrepreneurs, technology developers and innovators, through startups, to obtain reliable and user-friendly low-cost products and solutions for use on the Indian Railways network.

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