New commercial arm to boost Isro in industry
The role of the organisation will be similar to that of the existing Antrix Corporation, which develops satellites and provides commercial launches.Updated: Jul 06, 2019 07:45 IST
A public sector enterprise called New Space India Limited (NSIL) will be set up in Bengaluru “to tap the benefits of research and development” carried out by the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said presenting the Union Budget 2019-20 on Friday.
The role of the organisation will be similar to that of the existing Antrix Corporation, which develops satellites and provides commercial launches. NSIL, which will be wholly owned by the department of space, will coordinate with the industry for production and transfer of technologies developed by Isro.
“India has emerged as a major space power with the technology and ability to launch satellites and other space products. Time has come to harness this ability commercially. NSIL has been incorporated as the new commercial arm of the department of space to tap the benefits of the research and development carried out by Isro. The company will spearhead the commercialisation, transfer of technologies, and marketing of space products,” Sitharaman said.
The announcement comes at a time when India is aiming to set up its own space station by 2030.
While the company was allotted an initial budgetary support of Rs 10 crore, there will be a total outlay of Rs 100 crore for it, said Suma Devakiram, chairman and managing director of NSIL.
The focus would be on commercialisation of India’s workhorse rocket Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), Small Satellite Launch Vehicle, and small satellites for now. It will also be responsible for commercial launches for other countries and private organisations.
“Isro is a research organisation and cannot market its own products. With the increasing pace of activity, there was a need for the company to commercialise products developed by Isro,” said Devakiram.
The government will also set up a National Research Foundation to consolidate research funding from across ministries. “We propose to establish NRF to assimilate the research grants being given by the various ministries. NRF will ensure that the overall research ecosystem in the country is strengthened, with focus on our national priorities and basic science without duplication of efforts and expenditure,” Sitharaman said.
Officials say the move is aimed at consolidating research funding. “This is a positive step, which will consolidate research funding and encourage more collaborative research,” said Ashutosh Sharma, secretary, department of science.
Scientists fear that a single agency would limit the funding options. “...The current ecosystem allows a scientist to approach a different funding agency if the project is not approved by one. There have been several instances where groundbreaking research was not published by a particular journal and the researcher went to another one; funding is also similar,” said Soumitra Banerjee, general secretary of Breakthrough Science Society and professor at Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research, Kolkata.