news | 4 October 2023

INDUS-X Maritime ISR and Underwater Communications Challenges Launched

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(October 4, 2023) The first two INDUS-X challenges, initially announced in early September at the India-U.S. Defense Acceleration Ecosystem (INDUS-X) Advisory Group meeting, are now live. The first challenge is the iDEX Maritime Intelligence, Surveillance, and Recognizance (ISR) Challenge. This challenge seeks oil spill detection and tracking technologies. The total prize purse is $150,000. 

The second challenge launching today is the iDEX Underwater Communication Challenge. This challenge seeks new hardware and software technologies that can support high-bandwidth underwater communication. The total prize purse is $150,000. 

Both challenges are open through November 17, 2023 (note updated date) and are open to U.S.-owned and operated startups at early-mid stage or who are considered non-traditional.*  Registration is required to access the DIU-NSIN IdeaScale platform. 

On September 5, 2023, The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) held the first virtual meeting of the INDUS-X Senior Advisory Group.

Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) Director Doug Beck and Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Southeast Asia Lindsey Ford co-chaired the meeting alongside. Anurag Bajpai, Joint Secretary (Defence Industries Promotion) of the Indian MoD.  Participants discussed ongoing initiatives to drive innovation and equip both countries’ armed forces with the capabilities they need to defend a free and open Indo-Pacific.

DIU and iDEX announced topics for the first two joint challenges, focused on undersea communication and maritime intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. Aligned with the Roadmap for U.S.-India Defense Industrial Cooperation, the challenges provide for start-ups in both countries to develop technological solutions for shared defense challenges, culminating in financial awards for the most promising technology along with potential procurement opportunities. DIU and iDEX will open the challenges to start-ups later this month.

The Senior Advisory Group welcomed initiatives by non-governmental stakeholders to implement the INDUS-X collaboration agenda. On August 25, Hacking4Allies and IIT Hyderabad hosted a program for 50 Indian start-ups to equip them to commercialize, recruit talent, and expand. And on August 29, Pennsylvania State University and IIT Kanpur convened a virtual group of U.S. and Indian academics, government officials, and industry representatives to advance discussions on developing innovation ecosystems in emerging domains like AI, space, and cyber. The Group also noted efforts by private investors to generate capital for U.S. and Indian defense and dual-use technology start-ups, and committed to facilitating greater two-way flow of capital to support innovation and integration between their respective private defense sectors.

*Non-traditional means an entity that is not currently performing and has not performed, for at least the one-year period preceding the solicitation of sources by the Department of Defense for the procurement or transaction, any contract or subcontract for the Department of Defense that is subject to full coverage under the cost accounting standards prescribed pursuant to section 1502 of title 41 and the regulations implementing such section.