Indian space and Defense Sector call for collaborations between academia, industry, and startups

Indian Space Association has organized the 2nd edition of the ‘Indian DefSpace Symposium’ to create a platform for all stakeholders to foster India’s defense-space capabilities and bolster its economic might.

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Pic 1- Inaugural session at the Indian DefSpace Symposium 2024 organized by Indian Space Association.JPG

Indian DefSpace Symposium 2024

On the commencement of the second edition of the 'Indian DefSpace Symposium 2024' at the Manekshaw Centre in New Delhi. Organized by the Indian Space Association (ISpA), this three-day event aims to enhance collaboration between the Indian space and defense sectors. It serves as a platform for key stakeholders from the defense sector, DRDO, government entities, and industry professionals to discuss the latest trends and challenges in the defense space sector, fostering networking and collaboration opportunities.


The opening ceremony was attended by Chief Guest Admiral R. Hari Kumar, Chief of the Naval Staff, Indian Navy, and Guest of Honor Dr. Samir V Kamat, Chairman of DRDO, alongside several other dignitaries representing ministries, the defense sector, and the space industry.

During the inaugural day of the event, attendees engaged in multiple sessions and panel discussions featuring experts from both the defense and space sectors. The discussions covered diverse topics including challenges within these industries and an examination of China's defense space capabilities.

“Till 2020, we've been just about 2% of the global space commerce. Today we have clear plans to reach close to 44 billion dollars. I believe that when all of us between industry, the user, and the space professionals start coming together, things can happen. We know the sector was opened in 2020, the policy to create a framework for activating took a little bit of time, came up in April 2023 and the FDI rules have just been notified yesterday but announced a few weeks back, now remains to bring peace to that policy, and that's the law. We wait for the new government to do that. Just after the new government forms, I believe that's an action that all of us need to take. So that the space then starts getting perfectly regulated. Although a regulator today exists, the regulator does not have peace of the law. It has a backing of the policy, and from policy to law is a path we still have to cross”, said Jayanti D Patil, Chairman, of the Indian Space Association (ISpA) in his welcome address.


In a virtual address, General Anil Chauhan, Chief of Defence Staff, Indian Armed Forces said, “. I can say that there is enough space for everyone to grow. I wish all the startups in the space domain graduate to become unicorns and then flourish as global partners in times to come. During the last India DefSpace Symposium organized by the Indian Space Association, we saw the industry working closely with the Ministry of Defense and user stakeholders for the finalization of DefSpace Challenge winners. Now that most of the IDEX winners have been finalized, it's important for the users to deeply engage with the startups to facilitate and handle the technology development process so that the delivered products can meet the expectations of the services. I will call upon DRDO to deeply engage with the Indian startup community in partnership with the Indian space industry to develop cutting-edge solutions which would help reduce our technology gap vis-à-vis our adversaries. Earlier, I had made a mention of developing a legal and academic framework for our space capabilities. There is a need to develop and update our requisite doctrines to ensure that space and cyber elements are deeply integrated at strategic, operational, and tactical levels. We also need to ensure interoperability with the current and future equipment. Capacity building in terms of both subject matter experts and advisors as well as making a technology-competent workforce will be the highest priority so that we are prepared to undertake transformation which will be inescapable or reduction of space-based solutions presently under development. I'm sanguine that the three services, DRDO, industry, startups, and academia will be able to utilize this platform to discuss and come up with creative solutions to empower our nation.”

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 of and convergence in action between space and the sea. The Bhartiya Nausena has resolved to be a fully 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 theaters 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 environment protection. Looking ahead, synergy with the several space agencies and industry and initiatives like IDEX promised further advancements that encourage innovation and self-reliance by pooling resources across academia, industry, and startups. I would encourage the space sector, MSMEs, and start-ups to borrow a leaf from our successful initiatives in indigenization. Similar to the innovations in the space sector through IDEX, Bhartiya Nausena with the aim to forward the technology curve has been working alongside MSMEs, start-ups, academia, students, innovators, and dreamers through our three-tier organization under the Naval Innovation and Indigenization Organization (NIIO). By fostering collaboration and embracing emerging technologies, together we can unlock new frontiers of exploration while ensuring the safety, security, and prosperity of our great nation.”

Dr. Samir V Kamat, Chairman, of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), speaking at the inaugural day, “Space situational awareness, space-based surveillance, 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 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.”

Lt. Gen. AK Bhatt, DG of the Indian Space Association in his vote of thanks, emphasized the need to focus on discussions around DefSpace challenges to take it forward and to get outcomes 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 symposium aims to establish a platform for stakeholders interested in enhancing India's military space capability and strategies. Convening experts from various domains, it facilitates discussions on the latest trends and obstacles in the defense space arena. This offers a valuable networking occasion for attendees from the defense, DRDO, and government sectors, along with industry professionals, to foster collaboration.