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The session, organised by the Department of Space, Govt of India, and FICCI, touched upon the available market opportunities in the space start-up sector and factors required to increase industry participation.

Dubai, NFAPost: Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC-ISRO) Director Dr Somanath S said, space sector is on its way to becoming a trillion-dollar industry and the role of start-ups will be crucial in this journey.

Dr Somanath S made this observation while speaking at a panel discussion on ‘Global Opportunities for Start-ups in Space Sector and Trends’ jointly organised by the Department of Space, Govt of India, and FICCI at the India Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. The panel discussion was organised as part of session on ‘Space for Start-ups: Infinite opportunities in Space’ as part of the Space Week theme.

“For start-ups to succeed, they must either reinvent existing technology to cause a disruption in the existing domain, generate new technologies and ideas into the sector, or use innovative ideas to put existing products or projects to new uses,” he said.

VSSC Director also urged established companies and start-ups that have graduated into full-fledged businesses to give back to the sector by mentoring the new generation of start-ups.

UAE Space Agency Executive Director Ibrahim Al Qasim said the recent developments in the cost of access to space has made it possible for mega constellation in space.

“However, there is a need to develop a more holistic and unified vision for the sector. More coordination and collaboration will be critical to ensure access to space. Going forward, focus of the UAE space sector will be towards building on the downstream sector, which will pull the upstream industry towards more opportunities,” said Ibrahim Al Qasim.

Highlighting the challenges for start-ups in the sector, Bellatrix Aerospace CEO & CTO Rohan M Ganapathy said that the gestation period in space sector is very high.

“Since gestation period is very high to make business sense, there is a lot of priority investment that must be put in first. To attract investment, that too before approaching investors, space products must have end-use on the ground,” said Rohan M Ganapathy.

Commenting on the inherent risks in the sector, Rohan M Ganapathy said if something fails in space, it fails. “You can’t go to space to service or fix it,” said Rohan M Ganapathy.

Alén Space COO and Co-Founder Diego Nodar said the first step for a space startup is bringing its business model to orbit and validating it would be the minimum viable product.

“You must be able to provide value at least to a group of users and get feedback from them, then go for the funding you need to scale up and transform your startup in a stable and sustainable company,” said Diego Nodar.

Dhruva Space Pvt Ltd CEO Sanjay Nekkanti said India & UAE are actively collaborating in the field of space research and both countries can truly unlock the new space economy together.

The session was also attended by eminent industry leaders including, Dr Sam Dayala Dev, Director, ISRO Inertial Systems Unit (IISU); Dr Unnikrishnan Nair, Director, Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC), ISRO; Sudheer Kumar N, Director, Capacity Building Program Office, ISRO Headquarters; Sireesh Pallikonda, Lead- Business Development, Skyroot Aerospace; Anirudh Sharma, Co-founder & CEO, Digantara; Tushar Jadhav, Co-Founder & CEO, Manastu Space and Gp Capt. Raghavendra Aroor (Retd.), General Manager, Alpha Design Technologies Pvt Ltd.

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