A wintry January morning in Bengaluru saw the coming together of two very unlikely sets of people. Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL), Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and Bharat Earth Movers Ltd, all suppliers of various defence equipment to the armed forces, were hosting an event at the BEL Officers Club. It was a mission to woo startups—an officious sounding seminar called ‘Role of startups in defence’ where about 50 startups showed up. Senior officials in ill-fitting suits from these three companies took turns to talk about their companies, their R&D prowess and how their guns protect the borders.
Defence PSUs are firing blanks
Defence Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) have extended a very tentative hand to startups. But their handshake seems cold at best as some of their legacy issues do not make them an ideal partner, at least for now
PSUs believe startups will find it tough to big monies working with them
But no real innovations have come from the R&D programmes of the defence PSUs
Startups that make end products used by the armed forces have viable business models
PSUs prefer sourcing from foreign manufacturers. They believe Indian startups' products are not of international quality