Massive Response to Three-Day Inaugural Maharashtra MSME Defence Expo 2024 in Pune

The inaugural Maharashtra MSME Defence Expo 2024 underscored the significance of self-reliance and indigenous creativity in fortifying India’s defence infrastructure

By Sri Krishna

Defence Industry

New Delhi: The inaugural Maharashtra MSME Defence Expo 2024 in Pune organised at the International Exhibition and Convention Centre Moshi for three days from February 24 received tremendous response from a large number of Micro, Small and Medium enterprises as also private companies, DRDO and Defence Public Sector Enterprises (DPSUs). The Expo drew people from all sections with immense enthusiasm among students showing the interest evoked in such enterprises among the youth.

The was aimed at showcasing capabilities of a large number of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), other private companies, Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) laboratories and Defence Public Sector Unit (DPSU) set ups in Maharashtra. A large number of students from colleges and schools in Pune and other parts of the state were invited for the Expo. Close to 500 MSMEs in addition to three armed forces, DRDO facilities, DPSUs and other entities from Defence and strategic ecosystems set up stalls at the Expo.

Ashish Karpe, an Electronic and Telecommunications Engineering student who visited the Expo said, “The Expo has been eye opener for students because it has shown vast opportunities available in the Defence sector through which we can contribute —both through service in Armed forces, other defence organisations and of course the private sector too.”

Ganesh Ramesh Nibe, Founder of Nibe Limited, which was the Knowledge Partner for the event, said “We strongly advocate for the indispensable contribution of MSMEs in achieving the Atmanirbhar mission in India’s Defence industry. Facilitating avenues for knowledge exchange nurtures an environment where MSMEs can engage, collaborate, and innovate, laying the groundwork for their advancement. The inaugural Maharashtra MSME Defence Expo 2024 underscores the significance of self-reliance and indigenous creativity in fortifying India’s defence infrastructure. This ground breaking event serves as a catalyst, propelling the cultivation of a highly skilled workforce capable of meeting the ever-evolving demands of the defence sector.”

Speaking at the inauguration, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis  announced that Maharashtra will soon revise its Aerospace and Defence manufacturing policy, which was first formulated in 2017. State Industries Minister Uday Samant announced that Maharashtra will soon have four Defence manufacturing clusters at Nagpur, Shirdi, Pune and Ratnagiri.

The Expo was organised by Maharashtra Government along with Nibe Limited as the knowledge partner, and has as its strategic partners Larsen and Toubro, Solar Industries, Tata Advance Systems, Bharat Forge, supported by DRDO and DPSU’s, exchange partner NSE and BSE, focusing on Land, Airspace, and Maritime Security Systems.

The aim was to make this a landmark event in the industrial sector of Maharashtra and as part of this, the inaugural day featured an illustrious line up of leaders in the defence industry sector including S. N. Subrahmanyan (Chairman and Managing Director, L&T), Ravi Kant (DPSUs Chairman), Satyanarayan Nuwal (Chairman Solar Industries), Baba Kalyani (Chairman Bharat Forge), and Ganesh Nibe (CMD of Nibe Limited).

The holding of this expo was to stimulate industry synergy, featuring state-of-the-art technologies and proficiencies in the defence production sector. It provided a platform to the industry to secure lucrative business opportunities, potential deals worth hundreds of crores, and strategic utilisation for MSMEs and start-ups in the defence technology export sector. Apart from this, DRDO’s technology transfer agreement with MSMEs will also take place. The expo saw discussion on future challenges in technologies in indigenous development in the defence sector.

The event gave the MSMEs and Startups a platform for strategic tie-ups and leverage defence technology exports to connect with Indian buyers, offset OEMs and other potential buyers.

The expo was aimed at  giving a boost to the Maharashtra MSME ecosystem to serve the defence production sector, establish a robust and enduring supply chain foundation for a dynamic MSME network in Maharashtra. It sought to pave the way for defence manufacturing and exports, catalysing a powerful ecosystem for the state and nation through the advancement of academia-industry collaborations. The expo was aimed to be a transformative event, propelling Maharashtra to the forefront of the defence sector, driving economic growth, and ensuring the nation’s security.

The expo was a significant showcase of the strength and innovation within Maharashtra’s defence sector and aligning with the vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat, emphasising self-reliance and excellence in defence production. It provided a platform to bring together industry leaders, policymakers, and stakeholders to foster collaboration, knowledge exchange, and drive growth. Going beyond a mere gathering, the expo encouraged meaningful discussions and strategic partnerships, reflecting Maharashtra’s commitment to cultivating a resilient defence ecosystem for ongoing growth and technological advancement.

Top leaders from the industry such as Larsen and Toubro, Mahindra, Tata, and DRDO showcased their capabilities, highlighting Maharashtra’s emergence as a pivotal hub for defence production. The expo served as a platform for showcasing cutting-edge technologies and nurturing proficiency within the defence production sector.

With Pune having 11 ordnance factories, 5 defence PSUs, and state-of-the-art DRDO facility, and as the Deputy Chief Minister Devender Fadnavis said  there was need for partnerships between MSMEs and PSUs to bolster the defence manufacturing supply chain.

State Minister Uday Samant said Maharashtra was poised to become the defence hub of the nation, and that the four clusters would enhance the state’s defence competencies. He emphasised the role of Aatmanirbhar Bharat in encouraging the emergence of numerous defence MSMEs.

A pivotal aspect of the expo was the MoUs signed notably between Government of Maharashtra and Max Aerospace and Aviation Pvt Ltd, SBL Energy Ltd and a collaboration between Nibe Ltd and Munitions India Ltd.

The event also featured insightful panel discussions, shedding light on the defence ecosystem’s current landscape, alongside the challenges and opportunities encountered on India’s path to self-sufficiency in defence sector. Key players in the defence industry displayed an extensive range of products spanning from small arms weapon systems to diverse military vehicles and advanced air defence and missile systems.

Notable exhibits showcased included Advanced Light Helicopter Dhruv, Light Combat Helicopter Prachand, the powerful Dhanush artillery gun, the precision Field Howitzer 77 Bofors gun, T-90 Bhishma and Arjun tanks, alongside the Infantry carrying vehicle BMP-II. The Expo also gave visitors an opportunity to see Indian Air Force’s Make in India Samar-II and the Akash surface-to-air weapons system.

The event saw the presence of the three Service Chiefs led by the Air Chief, Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhuri, Naval Chief, Admiral R. Hari Kumar and the Army Chief General Manoj Pande while the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Anil Chauhan attended virtually. It was also attended by Chairman of the DRDOS, Dr Samir V Kamat, who said “our prime minister’s vision for India’s future hinges on advances particularly in defence. To lead globally by 2047, we must foster an ecosystem that unites academia, MSMEs and Startup Industry.”

Speaking at the event, Ganesh Nibe, Chairman and Managing Director of Nibe Limited who were knowledge partner of the Expo said that it was a “landmark event that highlights the latest in India’s indigenous defence equipment and technologies.”

The opening day of the Expo saw several panel discussions in which experts participated and was indeed engaging with topics like ‘Boosting a Defence Ecosystem in India’ shedding light on the current state of the defence ecosystem and the need for a national mission program.

One of the major highlights of the expo was the showcasing of futuristic indigenous technologies by start-up companies in Maharashtra, including Drones for Aerial Surveillance and Bio-polymer platform-based products for Wound Care.

One of the major aims of the MSME Defence Expo was  to elevate the Maharashtra MSME ecosystem, establishing a robust supply chain foundation to cater to the defence production sector. By fostering academia-industry collaborations, the expo sought to pave the way for defence manufacturing and exports, catalysing a powerful ecosystem for the state and nation alike.