Spacetech startups are ready to take off in India

  • Indian Space Startups are gaining big investors
  • Blume Ventures, StartupXseed, and Inflexor ventures are investing in startups.
  • Companies like Pixxel, Bellatrix, and Agnikul, Vesta Space and many more companies are emerging in India.
Satellite

Spacetech startups are gaining investors in India and gaining speed in India because of local tech expertise and a growing number of investor interest.

Many new startups like Pixxel, Bellatrix Aerospace, Agnikul, Vesta Space among others, led by young founders, have raised funds amid the pandemic, as they identify unique opportunities in space that can solve problems across industries.

As you know Indian Space Research Organization ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) has been the only organization in India which ontrol space sector in India.

The finance minister announced the opening of the Space Sector for private companies and this reform include giving permission to private companies for satellites, launches, and space-based services by introducing policy and regulatory to private companies and providing access to geospatial data and facilities of ISRO.

“The government is making many good decisions like optical fiber and many projects, we are very excited with the intent… that’s a great start. The space tech startups in India are extremely good and can launch a rocket at 1/3 rd the cost as compared to the US(United States) in the same segment,” says Arpit Agarwal, principal at Blume Ventures.

Many investors like Blume Ventures, StartupXseed, and Inflexor Ventures who have invested in space startups, believe that the time for space tech is growing now, which include the proliferation of micro-satellites, reduced launch costs, and the need for more real-time deep intelligence on our planet.

Space Rocket launching

 

There were three funding deals in 2020, according to data sourced from Tracxn.

“India has many advantages in space tech. Indian companies will spend less both in terms of manufacturing and operating costs as compared to foreign companies, we have an enormous talent ocean of engineers that we can use into in the VC eco system is warming up,” said Awais Ahmed,CEO, Pixxel that raised $5 million in seed funding in August.

Pixxel raised $5 Million got funding from Blume ventures, growX and Lightspeed that will strengthen its plans for its first satellite launch later this year and accelerate development of the second satellite.

A 21-year olds Awais Ahmed and Kshitij Khandelwal founded Pixxel’s in 2019, while still studying at the Birla Institiute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani, Pixxel’s satellites claim to collect high quality data as compared to today’s satellites that will then be analyzed using machine and deep learning models in order to detect, monitor and predict global problems. The first satellite is scheduled to launch towards the end of this year on a Soyuz rocket.

Ahmed said that they have completed the manufacturing and testing of the first satellite in January this year and are booked for a launch. “The launch has been pushed to November-December due to the lockdown. In the meantime, we are building the second satellite.”

In month of March, Agnikul, a Chennai-based spacetech startup raised ₹23.4 crore led by pi Ventures and in May, Pune-based Vesta Space Technology raised $10 million from US-based Next Capital LLC.

Founders of these companies said that VC funds are also warming up to spacetech startups. “Last 6 months interest has been increasing with 2-3 big fundings in the last six months. This was unthinkable of 1.5 years ago,” added Ahmed.

StartupXseed, that launched a second fund of ₹200 crore for investing in seed and growth stages in deep tech last week, has backed a number of startups working in space.

“Space startups have a long development cycle so lot of VCs were not looking at this sector. The bigger VC funds look for bigger deals. It needs lot more effort and focus to identify such companies, but there is enormous potential in India. People are waiting for 1-2 success stories… things will open up then,” Ravi Thakur, co-founder, StartupXseed.

Thakur said that demand is picking up while the technology and talent in India is on a par with the Silicon Valley and with the government opening up the sector, space tech startups are in a good orbit.

Part of StartupXseed’s portfolio,Bellatrix Aerospace that is developing orbital launch vehicles (rockets) and electric propulsion systems for satellites, raised $3 million in a pre-Series A round last year.

“Now is the best time to do a space tech startup, because the government and ISRO have opened up the space sector. Earlier there was no legal proper structure to launch a satellite or rocket, neither was ISRO facilities was open for private companies,” says Yashas Karanam co-founder and COO at Bellatrix.

The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) incubated startup, founded by two 22-year-olds, is also the only venture in India to have a technology development contract from ISRO for an electric propulsion system. Blume’s Agarwal added that deep tech startups working on AI(Artificial Intelligince), Medical imaging, drones, robotics, automation, and spacetech have lot of potential and there is enough experience available in the ecosystem that a new startup can properly develop.

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