Indian Railways (IR) has introduced a new innovation policy to leverage new technologies developed by local entrepreneurs in a bid to improve operational efficiency and safety.

The new initiative, called StartUps for Railways, is aimed to facilitate the participation of untapped start-up ecosystem to address the issues the IR is currently facing.

Launching the policy, India’s Minister of Railways, Communications and Electronics & Information Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw said that the programme will provide the start-ups with ‘a good opportunity’ to connect with railways.

The move comes after IR tasked field units last month to identify key problems in railways.

IR received around 160 problem statements but shortlisted 11 of them for the first phase of the programme.

These issues will be presented before the start-ups for solutions.

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Under the innovation policy, the start-ups can receive a grant of up to $192,306 (Rs15m) on equal sharing basis with provision of milestone-wise payment.

The prototype solutions developed by the innovators will be tested by IR. Additional funding will be allocated to scale up deployment after successful trials.

The innovator will continue to hold developed intellectual property rights (IPR).

Some of the problems statements identified for first phase include Broken Rail Detection System, Rail Stress Monitoring System, Automation of Track Inspection Activities, development of Light-weight wagon and Track Cleaning Machine among others.

Several other problem statements are currently under scrutiny and will be added in subsequent phases.

India’s Ministry of Coal recently undertook 13 railway projects for development.