INTERVIEW: Dassault Group has an India software services unit offering defence MSMEs a digital ‘trial room’ where they can test their products to bag more contracts

INTERVIEW: Dassault Group has an India software services unit offering defence MSMEs a digital ‘trial room’ where they can test their products to bag more contracts
Dassault Systemes is the world's second largest computer-aided design and drafting companyDassault Systemes
  • The Indian government has started to give defence procurement contracts to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
  • Dassault Group's software services subsidiary called Dassault Systemes, which already works with companies like NASA, Airbus and Boeing, sees this as an opportunity to enable these MSMEs to deliver on these contracts.
  • It is currently in early talks to set up a ‘common shared infrastructure model’ with state governments — like Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu — where MSMEs can design, test and start rolling out technology-enabled defence products.
Everyone in India knows that French fighter jet maker Dassault Aviation clinched the deal with India to deliver Rafale, despite all the controversies surrounding it. But, did you know that its parent company, the Dassault Group, has a subsidiary that provides engineering software, much like Microsoft and Oracle — and has an office in India?

The software offshoot, Dassault Systemes, is looking to make roadways into the country by capitalising on the Modi administration’s push on Atma Nirbhar Bharat (Self Reliant India).

Under the massive reforms introduced last year, the Indian government is now handing out defence procurement contracts to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to boost domestic defence manufacturing.

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“The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has planned to invest about 63% of the outlay for 2021-22 — about ₹70,221 crore — on domestic procurement. This increase will have a positive impact on enhanced domestic procurement, having a multiplier effect on our industries, including MSMEs and startups,” said Defence Minister Rajnath Singh during a webinar on February 22. A ‘Fund of Funds’ worth ₹10,000 crore has been specifically created for startups and MSMEs.

CompanyDefence procurement contractItem
ideaForge₹ 145 crore Unmanned aerial vehicles for high altitude areas
Bharat Forge₹178 crore Kalyani M4 vehicles
OshoCorp Global₹ 1,325 croreDevelop and supply auxiliary power units (APUs) for T-72 and T-90 main battle tanks
Alpha Design Technologies₹ 590 croreDigitise Pechora missile and radar systems
Source: Various reports

Dassault Systemes wants to capitalise on this opportunity by introducing what they call a ‘common shared infrastructure model’, which essentially an innovation centre. It is currently in early talks with state governments⁠ looking to set up defence industrial corridors. Namely, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu as identified by India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

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“We’re working with the government to create a ‘common shared infrastructure model’, where the government and Dassault Systemes will invest to create the model. MSMEs will leverage the model and the technologies that are hosted there, so that they also get elevated in the technology adoption scale,” Ravikiran Pothukuchi, the Director of Dassault Systemes told Business Insider in an exclusive interview.

Dassault Systemes is already the second-largest player in the global market when it comes to computer-aided design (CAD) software after Siemens. This is basically the use of computers to help with the creation, modification, analysis and optimisation of a product.

INTERVIEW: Dassault Group has an India software services unit offering defence MSMEs a digital ‘trial room’ where they can test their products to bag more contracts
Dassault Systemes global market shareBI India

Its clients include bigwigs like Boeing, Airbus, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and its sister company, Dassault Aviation. In India, its clients include Ashok Leyland, Suprajit — India’s largest cable maker — and drone manufacturer General Aeronautics.
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INTERVIEW: Dassault Group has an India software services unit offering defence MSMEs a digital ‘trial room’ where they can test their products to bag more contracts
Distribution of Dassault Systemes' customers across countriesBI India

“What we realised is that the defence ecosystem of MSMEs [micro, small and medium enterprises] don't have the wavelength to invest in these technologies,” Ravikiran Pothukuchi, the director of Dassault Systemes told Business Insider in an exclusive interview.

What is a ‘common shared infrastructure model’?
A ‘common share infrastructure model’ is basically a stage where defence manufacturing companies and startups can come, toy with their ideas, and test their concepts — both in the virtual and physical world.

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“[The companies] take back their learnings and industrialise at a mass scale in their operations set up,” explained Pothukuchi.”That’s the idea that we’re discussing locally as well. There are some governments that have shown interest.”

The French IT software services company already has a similar set up in the US state of Wichita in collaboration with the Wichita State University. The state of Wichita is the aerospace hub of the US, like Bengaluru.

“Initially, governments are helping them to adapt to these technologies and we’ll become relevant to them at a later date. That is an investment we’re making along with the government,” the IIM-Bengaluru graduate told Business Insider.

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He hopes that the project to roll out the model will take shape within the next few months.

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