These 5 startups are propelling India’s space tech ecosystem
India’s space technology sector is reaching new heights. According to data from Tracxnfunding for this sector jumped 198.67% in 2021, reaching $67.2 million over 11 rounds, compared to $22.5 million in 2020 over nine rounds.
Since the Indian central government took steps to privatize the space sector, the number of startups in the sector has increased from 11 in 2019 to 47 in 2021, according to the Economic Survey 2022.
Your story presents a list of promising Indians space technology startups which develop launchers, satellites, propulsion engines, remote sensors, etc. and also democratizing access to space technologies for businesses in India and beyond.
Launched in 2012 by Sanjay Nekantian alumnus of SRM University and later joined by Abhay Egoor, Krishna Teja, and Chaitanya Doraall BITS-Pilani alumni, Dhruva Space is focused on creating comprehensive space engineering solutions.
The spacetech startup is based in Hyderabad, India, and Graz, Austria.
The platform offers modular, application-agnostic satellite platforms to enable faster, more reliable and cost-effective access to space. In addition to providing launch and ground station services, Dhruva Space also provides integrated one-stop access to customers who own and operate space assets.
The startup is active in the space, launch and ground segments and supports civil and defense customers worldwide.
Dhruva space has already started fostering industry-university collaborations and has previously collaborated with BITS – Hyderabad and IIT Hyderabad. It is incubated at the European Space Agency’s Business Incubation Center in Austria, giving them access to the European market and technology.
In October 2021, it raised Rs 22 crore led by IAN Fund and Blue Ashva Capital.
Founded in 2017 by Prateep Basu, Rashmit Singh Sukhmani and Abhishek Raju, based in Bengaluru space technology startup SatSure is a business intelligence company working on the convergence of space technology, artificial intelligence and sustainability.
It offers three key offerings – SatSure Sparta agriculture and climate information platform in a freemium model; SatSure SAGE, a lifecycle risk monitoring and business intelligence product for agricultural financial services; and SatSure SKIES, which is an infrastructure change detection platform based on high-resolution satellite imagery.
The platform is involved in building actionable insights using data from satellites for the banking and insurance industries.
The startup has ties to companies like ICICI Bank, Reliance General Insurance, and Samunnati Finance, among others.
In November 2021, it raised an undisclosed amount of equity funding in a round led by Baring Private Equity India.
The capital will be used to grow its team, expand its product portfolio and increase its international business footprint. It is also looking to capitalize on its in-orbit high-resolution optical and multi-spectral payload demonstration mission that was announced earlier this year.
Launched in 2019 by 20-year-olds Awais Ahmed and Kshitij Khandelwal, Los Angeles and Based in Bangalore space technology startup Pixell creates a health monitor for the planet by building and launching the hyperspectral imaging satellites.
He claims to have worked with notable organizations such as ISRO, NASA JPL, and SpaceX among space stalwarts. It is also backed by Lightspeed, Radical Ventures, Jordan Noone of Relativity, Seraphim Capital, Ryan Johnson, Blume Ventures, Sparta LLC, growX ventures, Inventus Capital, and Omnivore VC, among others.
Pixell says its platform opens up a range of new environmental and sustainability use cases, providing advanced tools for agriculture, oil and gas, mining, and environmental agencies to analyze geospatial composites of the Earth’s surface in real time via a simple API (application programming interface). This precise level of detail will provide in-depth information to the government to control and manage risky activities in several sectors.
The startup also successfully recovered its first hyperspectral satellite footage recently from a camera that launched last year with partners NanoAvionics and Dragonfly Aerospace.
In April 2022, it launched its first full-fledged commercial satellite Shakuntala (Technology Demonstrator-2) with the SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket. Shakuntala is home to one of the highest-resolution commercial hyperspectral cameras ever sent into space, bringing it one step closer to building a 24/7 health monitor for the planet.
Traditional terrestrial imagery collects data in the visible light spectrum, which limits the end use cases. Hyperspectral imaging collects data at 40 times more wavelengths and can be used for a myriad of applications in India, such as monitoring methane emissions, quantifying carbon sequestration and monitoring disease outbreaks on cultivated land.
In March 2022, it raised $25 million in a Series A funding round led by Radical Ventures, a Toronto-based firm known for investing in entrepreneurs who are using artificial intelligence to transform massive industries.
Founded in 2017 by Srinath Ravichandran, Moin SPM, and Professor SR Chakravarthy, Agnikul Cosmos based in Chennai participates in the construction of a small private satellite launcher. Its flagship product, Agnibaan, is a small launch vehicle capable of carrying up to 100 kg of payload to low Earth orbits.
Earlier in 2021, the startup tested the world’s first 3D-printed rocket engine Agnilet and had said it would undertake further such tests in the rest of the year.
In May last year, it raised $11 million in a Series A funding round led by Mayfield India. Existing investors including pi Ventures, Speciale Invest and Artha Venture Fund also participated in the round.
The spacetech startup had raised $3.1 million in its pre-Series A financing in March 2020, and a funding round from Speciale Invest in 2019.
In September 2021, it signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Space Department to access ISRO facilities and expertise and undertake testing for its one-piece 3D printed semi-cryo engine and other systems.
Launched in 2017 by Nish Singh and Aditya Kedlaya, Astrogate Laboratories is a space technology company from bangalore, building core technologies in optical/laser communication terminals. It builds a complete chain of optical/laser communication systems to solve the problem of high-speed communication in space.
The space technology platform, Astrogate Laboratoriesenables satellite constellation operators to get more data from space to Earth safely and at lower cost.
Currently, the company has a qualified space-to-ground laser communication solution with its “smallsat optical downlink terminal” which can be easily integrated on all small/nanosatellite platforms and provide up to one downlink Gbps. The company also plans to provide space-to-space laser communication terminals.
The technology is akin to terrestrial fiber optics which has become ubiquitous. Astrogate Laboratories provides fiber-like speeds for satellite communications.
Being in the space technologies sector, Astroport claims it has matured its technology/products over the past year and is focused on achieving a flight legacy in 2022. The company is coordinating with satellite constellation operators for commercialization/firsts sales of its laser terminal and downlink services.
The company has already established itself as an end-to-end laser communication solutions provider and sees revenue growth in 2023 and beyond as it establishes commercial laser communication.
The startup raised pre-Series A capital in November 2020. The investment was led by Speciale Invest. Anicut Angel Fund and SuprValue.vc also co-invested in the round.