India saw 47 new space start-ups

Photo for representation. Source: iStock

As many as 47 new start-ups entered India’s space sector in 2021, bringing the total to 101, according to the 2022 Economic Survey Report.

The last three years have seen a growth in the number of new start-ups in the space sector, rising from 11 in 2019 to 47 in 2021.

“Policy initiatives and private sector involvement could help the Indian space sector capture a larger share of the global space economy, which was nearly $447 billion in 2020,” the report said.

This growth follows the government’s desire to open up the space sector to private players. This, according to the report, will improve the socio-economic use of space assets and activities.

A space sector reform empowered New Space India Ltd (NSIL), a public sector company, to “own” ISRO’s operational launchers and space assets.

Consequently, Tata Sky has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with NSIL to utilize the capacity on board the upcoming GSAT-24 communications satellite, built by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and launched by Arianespace.

The establishment of India’s National Space Promotion and Authorization Center (IN-SPACe), an independent nodal agency under the space department, also helped, according to the survey report. The Center will promote and regulate space activities in India by non-governmental/private entities.

IN-SPACe received nearly 40 proposals from major industries, MSMEs, start-ups and universities in areas ranging from launch vehicle/satellite manufacturing to Earth observation applications and communications, the report says. .

These policies permitted the testing of five private satellites at ISRO facilities and the launch of four student satellites aboard the PSLV C-51, the 53rd mission of the Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) program.

In addition, the government has signed six MoUs with private/academic entities to share technical expertise and facilities.

Currently, India accounts for only about 2% of the global space economy, far behind major players like the United States and China.

Start-ups from other sectors have also grown over the past six years, with most coming from the service sector. The number of new startups rose to more than 14,000 in 2021-22 from just 733 in 2016-17, the report said.

India is now the third largest startup ecosystem in the world after the United States and China, according to the survey report. Additionally, a record 44 Indian startups achieved unicorn status in 2021, bringing the total number of unicorns in India to 83, most of which are in the service industry.

By registering more than 5,000 recognized startups between April 2019 and December 2021, Delhi has dethroned Bangalore, India’s Silicon Valley, as the capital of startups. Bangalore added 4,514 new businesses over the same period.

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