Indian space agency ISRO on Tuesday opened a space technology incubation centre in Tripura capital Agartala, which was unveiled remotely from the country's tech hub Bengaluru in Karnataka.
"The ISRO Space Technology Incubation Centre opened at the National Institute of Technology (NIT) at Agartala will incubate start-ups to build applications and products, along with the industry, that can be used in future space missions," Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman K. Sivan said on the occasion.
Sivan was speaking at the first edition of 'Spacetronics 2018' summit here organised by the India Electronics and Semiconductor Association (IESA), the trade body of electronics design and manufacturing industry, to discuss the opportunities for electronics makers in Indian space sector.
The incubation centre was opened as part of the summit by Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb.
Within the next six months, ISRO plans to set up five more space technology incubation centres at Jalandhar in Punjab, Bhubaneswar in Odisha, Nagpur in Maharashtra, Indore in Madhya Pradesh and Tiruchirapalli in Tamil Nadu.
"We have chosen those locations to set up incubation centres where there is no space activity happening, but there is a presence of strong academic institutions and industry, so as to spur research and innovations in the country," Sivan added.
Each centre will be set up at a cost of Rs 2 crore, and will help the start-ups develop prototypes of components required for space technology, in partnership with the industry.
ISRO will also provide the necessary mentorship and guidance to individuals and businesses at the incubation centres.
"If the prototypes developed by the start-ups along with the industry meet the standards required, ISRO will acquire the technologies and components for use in its future space missions," the ISRO chief told a gathering of industry representatives.
The incubation centre will provide Tripura with an opportunity to steer ahead in the Information Technology (IT) and manufacturing sectors, the state's Chief Minister said at the summit.
The Indian space agency is also planning to set up regional academic centres for space research at state-run universities in Jaipur in Rajasthan, Patna in Bihar, Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu, Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Kurukshetra in Haryana and Guwahati in Assam.A
"While the incubation centres will promote manufacturing and innovations along with the industry, the academic centres will focus on space research," Sivan said.
Through these centres, the space agency aims to make use of the brightest minds across the length and breadth of the country, he added.
The consumption of electronics across various sector, including space, will be a $800 billion (Rs 58 lakh crore) market by 2026, but the country has a capacity to locally produce electronics worth only about $120 billion (Rs 8.7 lakh crore), according to IESA Chairman Anilkumar Muniswamy.
"With India forced to import over 75 per cent of its electronics needs, there is a huge opportunity for Indian industry to expand their businesses," Muniswamy said.
Earlier, scale was an issue for industry to produce space components, with India having few launches a year, but with ISRO eyeing two missions a month, businesses can play a bigger role in space business, he added.