India, France to set up Aerospace and Defence Centre of Excellence in Bengaluru

The centre will help train 1,600 engineers and professionals in industry-specific skills in a bid to meet the rising demand for Make in India products in defence and aerospace

Keeping in mind the Make in India theme and a fast developing ecosystem of aerospace and defence industry, a Centre of Excellence is being set up in Bengaluru in collaboration with a French non-profit for imparting industry-specific, high-end skill training to make the available manpower readily employable.

As part of the centre, two campuses will be started by the government of Karnataka along with French aerospace and defence major Dassault Systems.

Karnataka’s IT and BT minister Priyank Kharge told YourStory that the government had been in talks with Dassault since Bengaluru, the country’s premier tech event held last November.

Kharge explained,

We have been working closely with Dassault and the French government as they liked our idea of establishing a Centre of Excellence to address skill requirements for the growth of aerospace and defence. As Karnataka is the first state in the country to have an aerospace policy as well as the first to establish two aerospace manufacturing hubs in Bengaluru and Belagavi, they realised we were also looking at the future with all seriousness, as the total project cost for setting this up is Rs 288.68 crore.

Of the two campuses in Bengaluru, one will come up at Muddenahalli, which will help attract rural talent in this specialised sector. An MoU has been signed with Institut Aeronautique et Spatial (IAS), a Toulouse-based non-profit organisation.

The CoE will provide hi-end training and skill development to about 1,600 engineers every year to make them readily employable in the sector. The course certificate will be given by Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU), which governs and oversees engineering colleges and courses in the state.

India is currently the eighth largest spender on defence in the world, and this spending is expected to grow 7-8 percent per annum. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who was in the city last week for the Make in India – Karnataka conference, as well as Aero India 2017, said for the first time, the Ministry of Defence had sourced almost 95 percent of defence requirements locally. With an estimated $250 billion worth of procurement seen over the next decade, the defence sector is expected to give a major push to the Make in India initiative.

Bengaluru has for long been the hub for aerospace and defence sector, in terms of manufacturing, testing and R&D, being home to established players such as state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Bharat Electronics Limited and DRDO labs and private players like Airbus, Safran, Mahindra, Tata and others. There are also a large number of small and medium enterprises that serve as ancillary units as well as startups that produce hi-end technology for major players.

HAL and the Indian Space Research Organisation alone have together nurtured more than 6,000 manufacturing units, and a large pool of trained manpower is already available.

State Industries Minister R.V. Deshpande said,

Karnataka accounts for 65 percent of the national share from this industry and also has notched up several firsts, such as an aerospace policy, an aerospace park on 1,000 acres of land near the Bengaluru International Airport, 600 acres allotted to HAL to set up a helicopter plant in Gubbi, Tumkur district, and the country’s first privately-owed aerospace SEZ in Belagavi.

The CoE will improve the skills of employable engineers and other professionals through industry-focused skill development programmes, he added.

3D experience platform

The CoE will use a 3D experience platform developed by Dassault, which has worked with the world’s leading companies for over 35 years. Dassault will also bear the bulk of the project cost, by contributing Rs 251 crore in the form of developing software packages, updation, licence charges, faculty and training. The Karnataka government has provided land and will also contribute around Rs 34 crore over the next three years for the project.

Samson Khaou, Managing Director-India, Dassault Systems, said his company is delighted to partner with the state government in its endeavour. “Dassault will draw upon its expertise and experience and ensure that the training imparted at the CoE is of high standards, matching that of the industry around the globe.”

Pierre Valenti, Managing Director, Institut Aeronautique et Spatial, said his institute will help turn the CoE into a world-class institution for the aerospace and defence sector.

Academic partner VTU will provide space at both the centres and is also expected to spend Rs 4.5 crore for putting together infrastructure, provide manpower to run the centres, as well as meet costs towards power, Internet and other expenditure, the minister added.

The CoE will ensure that the competitive advantage of Karnataka as an aerospace and defence hub in the country is retained and strengthened. “There is an acute shortage of skilled engineers and professionals in the area and CoE will act as a catalyst for growth. The youth here can get exposure in industrial design as a career option,” Kharge added.