Marking the Arrival of A New breed of Enterprises
Thiruvananthapuram: Undoubtedly, Kerala is emerging as a key region in the startup ecosystem of the country with Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi being the hubs introducing radical changes in the IT, hardware and manufacturing industries.
The capital city has the added advantage of housing some of the most important space research and development centres of India. The vibrancy of the startup ecosystem and highly supportive government policies facilitating startup promotion in Kerala have reinvigorated startup aspirations in the space domain, encouraging players to shift focus to Thiruvananthapuram. Plans of companies like Agnikul, Exseed Space, Spacestrut, Bellatrix Aerospace and SatSure to move or expand operations to the city are marking the arrival of a new breed of enterprises.
“The new breed of space companies comprises a set of people who are solving very specific upstream and downstream problems. The upstream work is primarily concerned with launch vehicles, satellites, rovers and other space assets. Downstream space companies deal with the data which is obtained from the assets that are already in orbit for the general good of society,” said Samuel John, COO, SatSure which has recently expanded its IT operations to the Space Technology Applications Development Ecosystem (STADE) introduced by Kerala Startup Mission.
SatSure was co-founded by a group of four students belonging to the first batch of Indian Institute of Space Technology (IIST) in Thiruvananthapuram. They are PrateepBasu, IshantTomar, Rashmith Singh Sukhuni and AbhishekRaju. With the launch of its operations at STADE, Samuel says it is a ‘long-awaited homecoming’ for the company.
SatSure focuses on leveraging satellite data for meeting downstream requirements. It uses technological advances in remote sensing, machine learning and big data analytics to provide answers to large number of questions across multiple domains. Using geospatial big data platform to combine satellite imagery and proprietary algorithms with weather, IoT, drone imagery, social and economic data sets, and cadastral, among others, SatSure generates near real-time location-specific insights. Besides agriculture, SatSure offers solutions to verticals like social infrastructure, telecom and sustainable development.
“We have about 15 team members working in hardcore IT to support our remote sensing experts working out of Bengaluru. I would call our facility here a Geospatial and Big Data Centre of Excellence,” said John. While SatSure’s solutions for agriculture sector remains its single largest business, John says that the company also works for the telecom sector – mainly to help develop telecom networks based on analysis of land use and land classification using satellite images. Also, in the sustainable development sector, it has built an elaborate portfolio by analysing data sets pertaining to land use, classification and deforestation.
"The reason why IT companies grew in Kerala and elsewhere in the country was because of the positive policies which assisted them scale greater heights. We hope the government will lay down a very robust startup policy within the space industry,” he observed.
SatSure is one among the few startups associated with Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) commercial arm – Antrix Corporation Ltd. It signed a strategic MoU with Antrix in March 2018 with the intention to develop geospatial big data analytics. The COO adds that the company does not have any plans as such to expand its operations to upstream space domain.