Amid all the pandemic gloom, good news emerging from India’s space tech sector is that the number of private firms — more than 350 — is already more than Japan, China and Russia, putting India in fifth place globally. Of the 10,000-odd firms analysed as part of a global report that projects the space tech economy to touch $500 billion by 2025, over 5,500 are in the US, followed by the UK, Canada and Germany. The report lists 368 firms in India compared to 288, 269 and 206 in China, France and Spain, respectively. Japan and Russia have 184 and 56, respectively.
Isro chairman K Sivan said: “There has been a good response from the industry, both big and small. The number of proposals with IN-SPACe has also gone up by around 30% compared to the end of 2020.” As per the report by Spacetech Analytics titled ‘SpaceTech Industry 2021/Q2 Landscape Overview’, most companies globally (2,820) are in navigation and mapping, followed by 1,000 manufacturing firms, 718 doing space communication, remote sensing (211), aerial imaging (152), spacecraft development (80), space travel (58), and space medicine (48).
Jayakumar Venkatesan, CEO, Valles Marineris International, which helps train global astronauts through its partners in Russia, says: “The model Isro is following must change to that in the US. We can’t have a vendor-customer relationship model if we want industry to grow, it must be partnership based.” The report, which projects the space tech economy to touch $10 trillion by 2030 from the current $380 billion, has also analysed investments made in such companies during the said quarter. It has reviewed 10,000 firms, 5,000 investors, 150 R&D hubs and associations, and 130 government organisations across the world.
Total early-stage investments in space technologies in 2021 are $68 billion. “With a total of $28 billion invested in 3,086 companies, the US is an undisputed leader. This is six times the amount invested in companies in China — the second largest country in terms of space tech investment ($4.8 billion invested in 122 companies),” the report says. China is followed by the UK, where funding is mostly raised from public sources and IPOs. India is in fourth place with investments in about 110 firms, totalling not more than $2 billion. “One of the main aims of opening up the space sector was to enhance India’s share in the global space tech economy from around 3% to more than 10% in the next few years,” Sivan said.