IT Minister RS Prasad on Tuesday launched the “Swadeshi Microprocessor Challenge” to provide “further impetus to the strong ecosystem of start-up, innovation, and research in the country”. The challenge was launched under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat program, which calls for self-reliance.

The initiative is aimed at pushing India to meet its future requirements in strategic and industrial sectors, but it also “has the potential to mitigate the issues of security, licensing, technology obsolescence and most crucially cutting dependency on imports”. IIT Madras and the Center for Development of Advance Computing (CDAC) have developed two microprocessors using open-source systems under a program run by MEITY. The challenge invites all startups and students to use their microprocessors to develop various technology products.

The official release read: “The design, development & fabrication of these state-of-the-art processor variants at foundry in the country and abroad, is the successful step to leapfrog to ultimate goal of vibrant ecosystem of Electronic System Design & Manufacturing in the country.” The challenge demands contestants to make the processors available to the homegrown ecosystem to develop designs for global and domestic requirements in the future.

MEITY will offer financial support of Rs 4.30 crore at various stages of the challenge to develop the hardware prototype and incubate a startup. The competition will be spread over 10 months, starting with registrations on Tuesday and ending in June 2021. Ten finalist teams will together get a seed fund of Rs 2.30 crore, along with a year of incubation support.