Home Interviews Spacepreneur Editor Kartikeya in conversation with Lt. Gen. AK Bhatt, Director General, Indian Space Association (ISpA)

Spacepreneur Editor Kartikeya in conversation with Lt. Gen. AK Bhatt, Director General, Indian Space Association (ISpA)

by Editorial Staff
Spacepreneur Editor Kartikeya in conversation with Lt. Gen. AK Bhatt, Director General, Indian Space Association (ISpA)

What are the key objectives of the ISpA? How does it plan to revolutionise the Indian space sector? What are the new initiatives have been implemented so far since inception?

The key objective of the Indian Space Association (ISpA) is to promote and strengthen the Indian space industry, foster innovation and entrepreneurship, and facilitate collaborations among various stakeholders. ISpA plans to revolutionize the Indian space sector by advocating for policy reforms, promoting technology development, fostering industry-academia collaborations and participate in formulating effective, efficient and appropriate policies and regulatory frameworks for ease of doing business and policy stability. The four pillars of our focus are Policy Advocacy for Ease of Doing Business, Capacity development, international collaboration and interface with Strategic sector.

Since inception, ISpA has taken several initiatives such as organizing space related industry events like the Indian Space Conclave and Indian DefSpace Symposium. We have also been promoting space education through our space education series through various social media platforms. In the last one-year ISpA has worked towards collaborating with various ministries such as MoD and DoS and also launched whitepapers on development of space technology parks in India, etc. We also along with MOD, all the defense services and industry have been actively involved in curating the DefSpace Challenges which were released by the honourable Prime Minister in Oct 2022 at DefExpo at Ahmedabad

What are the current opportunities & challenges are there in Indian space industry?

The Indian space industry offers immense opportunities for growth and innovation and the new Indian Space policy’s ambition for the NGEs to participate in end-to-end activities is evident of governments push for self-reliance and technological advancement. This is a forward-looking policy for the Indian space sector which will help us to fulfil our Hon’ble Prime Minister’s vision for the growth of the Space industry in India.

The space industry in India had been mainly overseen by the government, with the Department of Space and the Department of Telecom regulating the Satcom business. ISRO is the primary service provider for all Space activities. Private sector participation has been mostly limited to manufacturing components and sub components. With an increase in space sector over the past decade, there is a growing need for private companies to move up the value chain and become full-scale manufacturers of satellites, launch vehicles and applications. India as a known space faring nation needs to have a larger Share of the Global Space economy. From a meagre 2.6 % it needs to grow to at least 10 % in the near future.

The satellite communication industry relies heavily on efficient utilization of the scarce and valuable spectrum resource and safeguarding it for space usage is crucial. The globally accepted method of allocation of spectrum administrative method needs to be ensured. Also frequencies allocated to space should be in alignment with International practises. In order to attract foreign capital, liberal FDI guidelines need to be brought out at the earliest by the Government. As a follow up of the Space Bill, It is also important that the consultations for the Space Activity Bill commences without delay. Being a spacefaring nation, we need to look at things from a larger perspective and that should be the government’s next step.

How is the current competitive landscape of the space sector? What role can the private sector play in India’s space journey? What role ISpA will play in bridging the gap? What are the new initiatives related to academia we can expect from ISpA?

The current competitive landscape of the space sector is rapidly evolving, with both public and private players contributing to the growth of the industry. The private sector can play a crucial role in India’s space journey by bringing in innovative ideas, funding, and technology. ISpA aims to bridge the gap between the public and private sectors by advocating for policy reforms, promoting industry-academia collaborations, and organizing networking events for stakeholders. In terms of academia, ISpA plans to launch initiatives such as space education programs, research collaborations, and more opportunities for space-related research.

ISpA’s recommendation of developing space technology parks have also highlighted that these would help in promoting the region as a knowledge hub in the Space domain, promote innovative products and services, aid talent pool creation, generate more jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities and yield export revenues. ISpA is also actively engaging with students, start-ups, academia, engineering and research institutions, and think tanks in order to spread awareness on the opportunities that are present in the Indian space sector.

What is your outlook for the sector in next 5 years?  

The Indian space sector is poised for significant growth in the next five years, driven by the government’s push for self-reliance and innovation. With the increasing participation of the private sector, we can expect a surge in technology development, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

According to a report launched by ISpA and EY, the space industry in India is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6%, leading to a market value of US$13 billion by 2025. The “Make in India” initiative would likely drive growth in satellite manufacturing, as the demand for small satellites is increasing. This trend is expected to make satellite manufacturing the second-fastest-growing segment in the Indian space industry by 2025. There are also large opportunities in the downstream segment where we have a natural advantage due to our IT skilled manpower.

What will be the key growth drivers?

The key growth drivers for the Indian space industry will be policy reforms, collaborations, and innovation. The government’s push for self-reliance and the involvement of the private sector to the development of new technologies, products, and services, driving growth in the industry and will lead India showcase their potential in the global market.

Other than this, lower costs for developing and launching satellites, promise of substantial Return on Investment (RoI) and technological advancement in the space industry will be the key drivers for investment in the Indian space segment.

We are sanguine that the Indian Space Enterprise led by ISRO along with private industry, startups and academia will be drivers for India’s growth

What is your message to young entrepreneurs who wish to enter space industry?

My message to young entrepreneurs who wish to enter the space industry is to stay focused on their goals, remain resilient in the face of challenges, and continue to innovate. The space industry offers immense opportunities for growth and innovation, and it is important to stay abreast of the latest technologies and developments in the field.

As the space industry is complex and challenging, and it can take years to develop a viable business, the young entrepreneurs should have perseverance and dedication which is critical to become successful in this sector. It is also crucial to develop a strong business acumen to navigate the commercial aspects of the space industry. This involves developing a comprehensive business plan, identifying potential investors, and understanding the regulatory framework.

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