In the last two years there have been significant changes in the space sector, “we need to discuss it introspect on it and see how we can empower and create a resilient space ecosystem in India, said Lt. Gen Anil Kumar Bhatt, Director General, Indian Space Association (ISpA) in the keynote address of the session “Indian space startups experience and eco-system creator” at DeSSEI 2022.
The government and the security forces who were the lead users of space have now been left behind by commercial usage, formulation, remote sensing, PNT and many more applications. There are new developments taking place by the commercial players which shape the future activities in India like space tourism, resource mining and space colonies. In India, the space scenario for years together had been led by ISRO. Lately India has witnessed the participation of private players in supplying simplified components and technologies.
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Challenges that space startups face
Abhishek Tiwari, Associate Director, KPMG and Advisor Emerging Tech and Startups, Government of Uttar Pradesh (UP), pointed out the challenges that space tech startups face in India. He said, “I am in touch with a lot of startups across the country including Bihar, Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Karnataka and trying to understand that, as a policymakers what does it take for us to actually create policy which will help the startups. The first one is about the awareness of the space ecosystem. Almost everyone is talking about creating a launch vehicle and I find that the entire space system is so vast that if you go for upstream hardware and as a start-up you can not really afford that.
If I talk about policies in UP, we offer INR 5Lacs as marketing allowance to launch, where either you can create your MVP or you can launch it in space. There is a need for complete overhaul of our thinking as well in terms of supporting these startups because our existing policies and even the definitions of funding. Start-up India is a fantastic scheme helping startups throughout the country but space tech start-ups cannot get benefitted. ”
Gen. Bhatt stated two major challenges that the startups face, “one is creation of assured demands for start-ups to scale up and second is the financial support for the third stage. They get money in the form of seed funding from the capitalists and investors but as they expand and grow, they would require more funds and there should be incentives by government in the form of PLIs and bank loans etc. ”
Tiwari mentioned that under the leadership of Yogi Adityanath, Chief Minister of UP, the start-up ecosystem in UP has seen tremendous innovations and improvement. UP started working on its start-up policies in 2017 and after five years, they have been able to attract more than INR 21,000 crore of investment and there are more than 100 startups now, which has made UP, one of the emerging hotspots for electronics manufacturing in the country.
Tiwari said, “We are in advanced stages of discussions with some of the bigger investors to set up the fab units. We revised our previous policy and launched in 2020, when we realized that the startup ecosystem was evolving faster than we thought and probably no one else was not serving the motive. Now we have 7000 startups in the state and we have become the third largest startup ecosystem in the country. ”
The recently launched scheme UP Free Smartphone Yojana 2022, from the digital empowerment perspective is a very progressive move, which will connect around 60,000 villages through a high speed broadband connectivity for which the government has decided to distribute 1,00,00,000 smartphones and tablets.
“We are setting very ambitious targets like forming 100 incubators in the state and we have already established 20 of them included in all the premium institutions like IITs and IIMs,” added Tiwari.