Isro announces incubation programme to groom space startups

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In order to support the growing startups in India, Indian Space Research Organization (Isro) has announced its plans to set up incubators across the country to groom space startups. It will focus on startups building newer solutions in rocketry, communications satellites and applications leveraging remote sensing data.

This initiative will help Isro create a strong commercial ecosystem in the country to help the startups establish themselves and leverage their potential for commercial purposes.

Isro had previously engaged with several startups through its commercial arm Antrix Corps. The startups it had engaged with include Bellatrix Aerospace, a company building electric propulsion systems for satellites, Aniara Communications and Exseed Space, a part of a private consortium that assembles, integrates, and tests communications and remote sensing satellites, along with Satsure, an agri-analytics company.

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.”

Now that Isro is looking to incubate startups to help them scale and exploit global opportunities, it will also be considering taking a stake in those startups, but the decision on the model hasn’t been finalized yet.

Isro plans to open incubators in six cities, these are expected to be opened close to Isro’s facilities that are spread across the country. Kerala, the location of Isro’s rocket research facility, has expressed interest in an incubator. While, Karnataka, location for Isro’s headquarter, has already included support for space startups in its aerospace policy.

This initiative will help Isro further its goals of making satellite manufacturing hub, apart from launching them from its soil. It aims to tap into a global opportunity of private firms building remote sensing and communication infrastructure for services that include high-speed internet services in the remote parts of the world.

On a global scale, other space agencies have also been involved with startups to boost innovation. While European Space Agency’s (ESA) business incubation centre ESA Space Solutions has incubated more than 600 startups in the last 20 years, the US space agency NASA and UK space agency have also worked with a number of startups.


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