Survival of space startups hinges on tie-ups with academia, space agencies: Experts at Huddle Global conclave

Trivandrum / November 18, 2023

Thiruvananthapuram, Nov. 18: Considering the emerging opportunities in space startup sector, it is imperative for startups to establish collaborations with academic institutes and space agencies for evolving new concepts that would help them not only to survive but also to grow faster, experts said at a global conference.  

Speaking at a panel discussion on ‘Space Moonshot Ideas and Exponential Growth Through Data’ at the fifth edition of Huddle Global conclave, organised by Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) at Adimalathura beach, near Vizhinjam, here, they said collaboration will be the key factor for moving ahead in the sector.

Mr. Lloyd Jacob Lopez, CEO, Hex 20, said space startups must identify the best universities and research institutes to come out with different innovative ideas.

He said his company has tie-ups with National Central University (NCU) in Taiwan besides collaborations with institutes in USA, France, Australia and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).   

“For us, we are looking at Asia Pacific region as in the USA and Europe, there are umpteen space startups. Opportunities are opening up in Asia Pacific region where India is doing extremely well in the space tech domain,” Mr. Lopez pointed out.

Noting that there are a lot of capable people in India who are developing things outside and also building platforms in the country, he said it is critical to establish collaboration between academia and space agencies like the ISRO.

Mr. Vishesh Rajaram, Managing Partner-Speciale Invest Fund, said as an investor, the real challenge is at what point the technology is going to be proven and market is showing acceptance.

“It takes three to five years to see the first revenue as against a software company or a consumer product company that gives some revenues in 18 months. The first three years, you have to validate and convince yourself that the company is progressing on the right track,” he suggested. 

Noting that collaborations with academia and space agencies will also help generate funding, Prof Satyanarayanan Chakravarthy, co-founder, & Professor, Aero Engg, IIT Madras, said startups must understand how they use a niche product they developed that is very hard for somebody else to develop. 

“We need to think through what is actually going to lead the exponential growth in a deep tech startup and be very clear about it right from the off. Otherwise, we will remain only intellectually diligent in lab,” he added.

Mr. Srinath Ravichandran, co-founder & CEO, Agnikul Cosmos, said understanding of the real problem statements and how to address them is important, besides identifying the right kind of opportunities and zeroing in on what one wants to solve. 

Mr. Harshan Vazhakunnam, Director, Accelerator & Principal-Social Alpha, said the ecosystem has to lend ample support to entrepreneurs, who aspire to enter the space sector.   

Dr. Arun Surendran, Strategic Director & Principal, Trinity College of Engineering, was the moderator.  

Earlier, speaking in another session on cybersecurity, Mr. Lance Lawrence, Global Leader, Nextgen Security Operations & Response, EY, said startups must take care of security breach notification and they have to record and capture every instance of breach as stealing of data is a million dollar business now. 

The November 16-18 fifth edition of Huddle Global, India’s biggest beachside startup conclave, was attended by around 15,000 delegates from India and abroad.

The event showcased cutting-edge products from emerging sectors such as robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, life sciences, space tech, Blockchain, IoT, e-governance, fintech, healthtech, agritech, edutech and SaaS from across the country.


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