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Govt steps up support to space startups; to incubate, mentor for product development, validation, more

Both Behnken and Cassidy each now have nine spacewalks to their credit.Both Behnken and Cassidy each now have nine spacewalks to their credit.Both Behnken and Cassidy each now have nine spacewalks to their credit.ISRO has worked with startups such as Bellatrix Aerospace, Team Indus, Kawa Space, Dhruva Space, etc.

In order to possibly boost India’s capabilities in the global aerospace market, the government is now doubling down on startups. Even as the space agency Indian Space Research Organisation has been engaging with multiple startups for quite some time now, the research and development organizations under the Ministry of Science and Technology — National Research Development Corporation (NRDC) and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-National Aerospace Laboratories (CSIR-NAL) have now come together to promote startups. The two have partnered to set-up an innovation-cum-incubator centre through external private funding to help aerospace startups scale up.

The centre would incubate, mentor, and support startups with product and prototype development of their product or service apart from its validation. “This partnership may pave a way for establishing innovation-cum-incubation centres in other CSIR laboratories which are working in different thematic areas” Dr H. Purushotham, Chief Managing Director, NRDC said in a statement by the ministry. The tie-up will help generate employment opportunities for youth, Purushotham added. However, details around its launch, number of startups to be supported, the duration of the programme, etc. have not been shared yet by the government.

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The global space economy is pegged at $360 billion of which the Indian space economy is around 2 per cent valued at $7 billion, according to consulting firm PwC India. “With a target to contribute 1 per cent to India’s envisaged $5 trillion GDP in 2024, the Indian space sector needs to reach $50 billion,” PwC said in its January 2020 report titled Preparing to scale new heights: Enhancing private participation in India’s commercial space sector. This translates to around 48 per cent CAGR.

To enhance the country’s potential in the space sector, the government took a historic decision in June this year by allowing the private sector to use ISRO’s facilities and other relevant assets to improve their capacities. The government had also formed a regulatory body called Indian National Space Promotion & Authorization Centre (IN-SPACe) to offer a level playing field for private companies to use Indian space infrastructure and allow building launch vehicles, satellites, etc. This is likely to boost ISRO’s engagement with startups even as it has worked with multiple young companies like Bellatrix Aerospace, Team Indus, Kawa Space, Dhruva Space, etc.

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