India’s spacetech startups to be global challengers in 5 years: SatSure's Rashmit Singh Sukhmani
Currently in its infancy, India’s spacetech sector is growing at a rate of knots. A combination of talent, innovation, and government support are helping the country’s fledgling spacetech startups make a global mark, SatSure co-founder and CTO Rashmit Singh Sukhmani said at TechSparks 2023.
With the successful Chandrayaan-3 mission—where India became the first nation to soft-land a spacecraft on the lunar South Pole—fresh in the mind, India’s space sector has never been so popular. But while the scientists at the Indian Space Research Organisation continue to win accolades for the nation, India’s private spacetech sector is yet to garner the same recognition.
On September 21, Rashmit Singh Sukhmani, spoke about how far India’s private spacetech sector has come at YourStory’s flagship startup summit TechSparks 2023 in Bengaluru. Sukhmani is the Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of one of India’s leading private spacetech ventures,.
Sukhmani made no bones about where India’s private spacetech sector stands at present. The sector is still at a nascent stage but is quickly gaining steam, he shared. “A lot of [spacetech] startups are coming up and tackling issues, not just on the upstream side, but also the downstream side like us,” said Sukhmani. SatSure, as Sukhmani explained it, analyses satellite data to provide its clients with actionable intelligence.
He believes that Indian spacetech appears primed for success—driven by the twin engines of innovation and talent. The latter, he says, is something the country has in spades. “Our education is actually good. I would say it's theoretical, but that is also helping us. The STEM subjects—science, technology, engineering and mathematics—are a big benefit.”
As a result, he says, good skilled labour is available in bulk. “This is what helps to keep costs low when you’re operating from India.”
The innovation flows from this talent. “We Indians know how to innovate and optimise on cost. The complexity here in India is not just on the technical front, but also on the ecosystem side. If you're able to tackle that, definitely you will be able to grow outside as well,” he said, adding that any problem that is solved in India will be easily scalable overseas.
Sukhmani knows this firsthand. Him and his fellow SatSure founders are all former ISRO scientists, who have been able to not only monetise their geospatial analytics in India but in other developing economies—including other parts of Asia and a handful of African and Latin American countries—as well. Having recently raised a $15 million funding round—no small feat in a sector that had only raised around $205 million between 2014 and July 2023—SatSure is now primed to enter more developed markets such as the US and Europe. The company even has its own satellites in development in Europe, which will be ready for deployment in 2025.
Much like SatSure itself, said Sukhmani, India’s private space tech space seems to be at a tipping point. The country’s space policy—published earlier this year—and its draft deep tech policy both inspire confidence, he said. The latter, in particular, places special emphasis on private-public partnerships, and there is already evidence of this focus translating into action. Sukhmani pointed to how ISRO has signed memorandums of understanding with various private players, which has granted the private sector access to critical facilities required for research and development.
“They (Indian spacetech startups) are actually doing good, and the support they’re getting from the government and external funding—both domestic and international—is helpful. Five years down the line, we will be able to challenge for the global market,” he declared.
Edited by Akanksha Sarma