Railways call startups to develop innovative tech solutions; offers Rs 1.5 Cr grant

Under the 'Indian Railway Innovation Policy', the railways ministry launched the official web portal and released 11 problem statements for startups to find solutions.
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The Ministry of Railways on Monday formally launched the Indian Railway Innovation Policy—‘StartUps for Railways’, as it looks to engage with startups for developing cost-effective, implementable, scalable solutions, and functional prototypes for the national transporter.

The policy aims at leveraging new innovative technologies developed by entrepreneurs and startups to improve operational efficiency and safety in the Railways.

Out of over 100 problem statements received from different divisions, field offices/zones of Railways, 11 problem statements like rail fracture, headway reduction etc, have been taken up for phase 1 of the programme. These will be presented before the startups to find innovative solutions, the ministry said in a statement. 

“Long-going discussions over integration of technology into Indian Railways have taken a firm shape today in the form of this initiative. Through this platform, startups will get a good opportunity to connect with Railways,” said Ashwini Vaishnaw, Minister of Railways, Communications and Electronics and Information Technology, during the launch of the official web portal for the policy at Rail Bhavan, New Delhi.

The minister has requested the startups to use this opportunity and ensured them of support in form of 50 percent capital grant, assured market, scale, and ecosystem. 

What startups need to know

As per the policy, an ‘innovator’ will be provided with a grant of up to Rs 1.5 crore on an equal sharing basis with the provision of milestone-wise payment. Enhanced funding will be provided to scale up deployment on the successful performance of prototypes.

In May 2022, the ministry had asked field units to identify problem areas where startups could innovate. In response, around 160 problem statements have been received to date, the ministry informed. 

To start with, 11 problem statements have been identified and uploaded on the dedicated portal for startups to start working on and building prototypes. The timeline for the entire process along with relevant details have been given on www.innovation.indianrailways.gov.in

The problem statements are as follow: 

  • Broken rail detection system
  • Rail Stress Monitoring System
  • Headway Improvement System for suburban section interoperable with Indian Railways National ATP system
  • Automation of track inspection activities
  • Design of superior Elastomeric Pad (EM Pad) for heavy haul freight wagons
  • Development of an online Condition Monitoring System for traction motors of three-phase electric locomotives
  • Light-weight wagon for transporting commodities like salt
  • Development of analytical tool by using digital data for improving passenger services
  • Track Cleaning Machine
  • App for post-training revision and self-service refresher courses
  • Use of remote sensing, geomatics and GIS for bridge inspection

Selection of innovator/s will be done by a transparent and fair system through the online portal inaugurated by the minister. The product development process has been decentralised at the divisional level to avoid delays.

It also informed that the innovator will exclusively retain the ownership of the intellectual property rights (IPR) generated under the project.

“This policy will bring scale and efficiency in the field of operation, maintenance and infrastructure creation through the participation of very large and untapped startup ecosystem,” the minister added. 

More problem statements have been collected from the Railways, which are under scrutiny and shall be uploaded in a phased manner, the press release said. 

Eligibility

The ministry had informed that the eligible organisations or beneficiaries of the support will include any Indian company incorporated under the Companies Act 1956/2013, primarily micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) as defined in the MSME Act, 2006, and individual innovators, an official had informed PTI in April 2022.

The railways shall retain the government purpose rights (GPRs), which shall be an exclusive, transferable, irrevocable licence to use the IP (intellectual property) for internal consumption or manufacture. The railways may use the GPRs to manufacture either directly or through subcontractors for its use. In this case, the government shall pay a royalty fee for the use of GPRs in intellectual property or technology or product, it had said.

Edited by Kanishk Singh

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