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Indian Defence Space Symposium 2024 Opens New Opportunities for Startups

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Chief of Defence Staff General Anil Chauhan urged the three defense forces and DRDO to engage with the Space industry and startups to develop cutting-edge technology to reduce the gap with adversaries. He highlighted the need to develop and update the requisite doctrines to ensure that space and cyber elements are deeply integrated at strategic, operational, and tactical levels. Speaking on the scope of business for the space industry, he stated, “I can say that there is enough space for everyone to grow.”

“I wish all the startups in the space domain would graduate to become unicorns and then flourish as global partners in the times to come,” he added.

The Chief of Defence Staff was speaking at the Indian Defence Space Symposium 2024, where the inaugural event included Chief Guest Admiral R Hari Kumar, Chief of the Naval Staff, Indian Navy, Guest of Honour Samir V Kamat, Chairman, DRDO, and various other dignitaries from across the ministries, defense, and space industries.

The first day of the event witnessed various sessions and panel discussions with experts from the defense and space sector deliberating on a wide range of topics such as challenges in the sectors and China’s defense space capability.

Addressing the inaugural session, Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral R. Hari Kumar, said, “It is in our aspiration to be AtmaNirbhar, and I see the biggest congruence and convergence in action between space and the sea. The Bhartiya Nausena has resolved to be a full Atmanirbhar force by 2047, and we actively seek the support of our partners in the space industry in our relentless pursuit of the same. In the vast expanses of the maritime domain, satellite connectivity provides us with reliable and secure communication, even in the most remote expanses of our areas of operation. High-bandwidth SATCOM links facilitate real-time voice, data, and video transmission, ensuring seamless command, control, communication, and coordination across diverse theatres of operation as we strive to ensure safe, secure, and stable seas for all.”

“Space technology has indeed emerged as the key enabler for bolstering maritime security through real-time and responsive maritime domain awareness, offering invaluable insight into movement, vessel tracking, illegal fishing detection, disaster management, and environmental protection. Looking ahead, synergy with several space agencies and industries and initiatives like IDEX promised further advancements that encourage innovation and self-reliance by pooling resources across academia, industry, and startups,” General Chauhan said.

Samir V Kamat, Chairman of, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), speaking at the inaugural day, said, “Space situational awareness, space-based surveillance, and launch on-demand capability are some areas where we need to develop capabilities further; these are critical areas. And we can do this if we all work together. It is indeed a very good sign that all of us are taking space and defense collaboration seriously. This is one area that is now going to be a key focus area. We are willing to work with startups and industry, and we are also willing to fund R&D in this area. IDEX already has 75 challenges, but we also have another mechanism called the Technology Development Fund, where we can fund up to 50 crores. If there are any good projects where any start-ups or MSMEs are present today and if you have any good proposals, you can approach us.”

Lieutenant General AK Bhatt, DG of the Indian Space Association, emphasized in his vote of thanks the need to focus on discussions around DefSpace challenges to take it forward and to get an outcome for the users, i.e., the services. He also informed the audience about the recent launch of the Earth observation satellite by TASL, a one-to-one model that was also available in the exhibition. The DG also informed the audience of Euroconsult’s study on the social impact of space initiated by ISRO.

The ongoing symposium focuses on creating a platform for all stakeholders who have a keen interest in boosting India’s military space capability and plans. The platform brings together experts from multiple domains to discuss the latest trends and challenges in the field of defense space, making it an excellent networking opportunity for attendees from the defense, DRDO, and government sectors, as well as industry professionals, to collaborate.

The Indian Defence Space Symposium 2024 is not only an important forum for discussions but also a significant opportunity for space startups. The Chief of Defence Staff’s emphasis on engagement with startups indicates the potential opportunities in the space sector. It is an ideal platform for startups to interact with industry experts, defense personnel, and government officials to explore and pursue collaborative ventures.

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