India’s space tech start-up ecosystem has been having challenges in acquiring funds. However, with the upcoming new Space Policy and the Space Activity Bill, experts on June 24 opined that things may look brighter in this regard for start-ups in the future.

At the National Conference on Development of Space start-up Ecosystem in India (DeSSEI) organised by the Astronomical Society of India, Lt. Gen. AK Bhatt, Director General, Indian Space Association (ISpA) said that space start-ups would need support from the government to sustain themselves in the long run.

“Space start-ups have already been receiving private capital incentives in the form of seed funding from angel investors and venture capitalists, but in order to sustain themselves, they would require active procurement from the government and support for their future development,” Bhatt said.

He hoped that the New Space Policy, followed by the Space Activity Bill would clarify issues such as the availability of testing facilities, both on the ground and in space, clarity on data use, import incentives, and technical details.

“In addition to this, I’m sure the government will also promptly enact more industry-driven initiatives like PLI incentives, GST reductions, bank loan guarantees, tax holidays, and other assistance to encourage start-ups in this extremely risky sector,” he added.

At the event, Pawan K Goenka, the chairman of the newly-formed Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (IN-SPACe), opined that funding will accelerate in this sector once a start-up attains the unicorn status.

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman S Somnath recognised that the role of non-governmental entities such as private companies, and start-ups were necessary to take India’s space sector further. On behalf of ISRO, he assured support to start-ups.

“I would like to offer this time that ISRO is looking at industries to build spacecraft which will host it for ISRO. I would like to offer this. I think we are taking such action. We want to design, and develop spacecraft which we can use for application – not to be done within ISRO. We are looking at such possibilities in the near future,” Somnath said.