The Indian Railways on Monday announced an Innovation Policy to leverage technologies developed by Indian start-ups to improve its operational efficiency and safety.
Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said about ₹50 crore has been earmarked to fund such start-ups annually, adding that the intellectual property rights (IPR) for any innovations will remain with the innovator.
The Railways will invest in start-ups to get solutions to problems such as rail fracture, headway reduction, automation of track inspection activities, development of analytical tool by using digital data for improving passenger services and track cleaning machine and use of remote sensing, geomatics and GIS for bridge inspection among others.
The Railways will provide a grant of up to ₹1.5 crore to each innovator on an equal-sharing basis with provision of milestone-wise payment.
“The policy is not just limited to the idea. Indian Railways will follow it through to the product after proof of concept and scaling it up, doubling the grant support and finally adoption of successfully developed product/technology for regular use and even support for two to three years. The annual budget for the policy will be around Rs 40-50 crore and an additional fund for the divisional railway managers so that they can find on-field solutions to on-field problems,” the minister said.
The complete process from floating of problem statement to development of prototype is online with defined time line to make it transparent and objective, the Railways said, adding that the trials of prototypes will be done in Railways.
It added that the selection of start ups will be done through open, transparent and fair process which will entail innovators uploading their concepts with necessary proof on a dedicated portal.
In May, field units were asked to provide problem areas. In response to it, about 160 problem statements have been received till date. To start with, 11 problems statements have been identified to deal via the new innovation policy and uploaded on the website.