Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is reportedly planning to set up incubators so as to groom space startups building solutions in rocketry, communication satellites and applications from remote sensing data that could be commercially viable and bring about a thriving commercial space ecosystem in India.
Currently, through their commercial arm called Antrix, ISRO is engaging with numerous startups like Bellatrix Aerospace – who builds electric propulsion systems for satellites; Aniara Communications and Exseed Space to join the private consortium assembling, integrating and testing communication and remote sensing satellites along with Satsure – an agri analytics company.
Speaking to ET, K Sivan, Chairman of ISRO said, “We are looking at multiple models for the incubators. Start (an incubator) on our own or engage existing technology incubators to groom these startups under ISRO supervision.”
The Bangalore-based space agency is aiming to incubate startups building applications, offering products and services which could be used internally and in turn help scale these companies to meet global opportunities. Mr. Sivan also added that they may pick stake in the startups, for which a model is being worked upon. ISRO is planning to open incubators in six cities, more likely to be near ISRO centres across the country. In addition to Karnataka, who already has an aerospace policy that includes support for space startups, Kerala – where ISRO’s rocket research facility is located – has also supposedly shown interest in an incubator.
Some see the setting up of an incubator as a means to help technologies, developed outside and within the agency, get commercial viability along with the spurting of newer ideas.
Similar to ISRO’s planned models, the European Space Agency’s business incubator centre, also known as ESA Space Solutions has already incubated over 600 startups over the last 20 years. While UK has also setup space incubators, US space agency, NASA already works with startups.
The Ministry of Defence had also recently announced the launch of Defence India Startup Challenge in Bengaluru. The aim being to build an ecosystem wherein entrepreneurship and innovation make help India become self-reliant in the space defence sector.