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Asian Development Bank Considers Funding Opportunities in India's Burgeoning Space Sector

The Asian Development Bank is considering funding India's space sector, aligning with its focus on climate financing and sustainable development goals.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is exploring opportunities to fund India's rapidly growing space sector, as revealed by its Vice President, Bhargav Dasgupta. This consideration aligns with ADB's broader focus on climate financing and its commitment to supporting Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

While ADB has previously engaged in satellite projects within the Asia Pacific region, it has yet to extend its support specifically to India's space sector. In a conversation with PTI, Dasgupta emphasized the openness of ADB to explore new avenues: "We have not done much till now, but we are always open to look at new areas. Given the burgeoning interest from startups since the sector was opened up, if we find projects that align with our SDGs, we will consider them."

Founded in 1966, the ADB is owned by 68 members, with India being one of its founding members and the fourth largest shareholder. Since 2010, India has also emerged as the bank's top borrower. The bank's mission is to achieve a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while also aiming to eradicate extreme poverty.

The consideration by ADB to fund India's space sector follows significant regulatory changes in the country. Two months ago, the Indian government liberalized the FDI policy for the spacetech sector, allowing up to 100% foreign direct investment via the automatic route for certain sub-segments.

Furthermore, the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe) recently released guidelines for implementing the Indian Space Policy 2023. These guidelines detail the authorization processes for space-related activities and outline the criteria and prerequisites required for approvals from the agency.

In 2020, the Indian government allowed private sector participation in the space industry and established IN-SPACe to regulate and promote this initiative.

According to the Inc42 report titled ‘Indian Spacetech Startup Landscape and Market Opportunity, 2023’, the sector has seen significant growth, with more than 150 spacetech startups securing over $285 million in funding between 2014 and 2023. These startups have attracted a diverse group of active investors, including Pi Ventures, Speciale Invest, Peak XV (formerly Sequoia India and SEA), Mumbai Angels, Artha India Ventures, and 9Unicorns.

This growth is supported by cost-effective innovation, global collaborations, and recent policies such as the Space Communication Policy, Space Remote Sensing Policy, and the Indian Space Policy of 2023. These policies promote technological access and private sector integration, further propelling the growth of the sector.