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Major Breakthrough for Digantra Founders: Peak XV Partners Announce $10 Million

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Digantra Founders raised a whopping funding of $10 million from Peak XV Partners in June 2023 in a Series A1 round. This is the first funding by Sequoia Capital India after its rebranding as Peak XV Partners.

Shailesh Lakhani, MD of Peak XV Partners, advocates not just the investment but also believes in the exceptional idea that the team at Digantara is working towards to create the most advanced Space Situational Awareness (SSA) data collection infrastructure. He says, “We believe this will lead to significant capability in the life cycle of managing satellites, which is a rapidly growing market.”

In July 2021, Kalaari Capital was one of the first investors for Digantara with seed funding of $2.5 Million, which was for the launch of its demonstration satellite and product development.

What is ‘Digantra’?

A Bengaluru-based firm, this company revolves around developing a space ecosystem by building a space debris detector. Digantra founders – Anirudh Sharma, Rahul Rawat, and Tanveer Ahmed compared their work to what Google does with Google Maps in an interview, focussing on the fact that they provide precision in space with an end-to-end solution called “Space-Mission Assurance Platform” or “Space-MAP.”

The software takes a different approach by incorporating sensor and data fusion. It hence allows sourcing the data from not just a single type of sensor but from numerous sensors and sources, empowering crowdsourcing of data. Digantra’s founders address the difficulties of space operations and situational awareness, propounding that it will employ data from the startup’s satellites, commercial satellite operators, government agencies, and private companies.

Founded by just three engineers with a deep interest and passion in outer space, it currently has a 30-member team with engineers and PHDs from astrodynamics, space weather, and space photonics.

Calling themselves the “new age space cartographers,” Digantra aims to provide precision in increasing the capabilities of the life-cycle of a satellite with the fresh capital in hand.

Collaborations and Upcoming Trends for Digantra

The company has been a member of the Indian Air Force (IAF) since 2019. It has been invited to the general assembly of the International Astronautical Congress (IAC 2019) under the leadership of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc – Govt of India). At the IAF Startup Pitch Session at IAC 2019, Digantara was registered among the top-8 companies.

Presently, 95% of an estimated one-million objects in Earth’s orbit remain anonymous and obscure, posing a grave threat to satellites and missions in outer space. The company is investing heavily in launching space tech infrastructure to track formerly undetectable objects and increase data credibility for the software. This move will enhance the comprehensive insights for informed decision-making by space organizations worldwide in an already complex celestial space.

The company has also initiated the development of India’s first commercial Space Situational Awareness (SSA) optical observatory in Uttarakhand to track space debris as small as 1 cm in size orbiting Earth. The firm recently launched two missions that served as the space weather testbed.

Considering everything, India has become a compelling market for investors looking to finance emerging space tech startups. Indian space and astrodynamics startups have also piqued the interest of tech giants like Google and Microsoft.

Indian Landscape for Space-Tech Startups

The Indian government recently introduced its new space policy to establish guidelines and rules for the country’s space ecosystem and detail public and private participation. Due to this policy, when the company announced the funding it received, it had to undergo bureaucratic FDI policies and restrictions, as explained by Anirudh in an interview. They had to shift the base of operations to Singapore to encash it. Currently, FDI in the space tech sector is allowed up to 100 percent in satellite formation and function, but only through the government’s channel, which is a long and exhaustive procedure. Therefore, the government is considering revising this policy to facilitate foreign investment in the private space sector to resolve this difficulty for new space-tech startups in the country.

According to the latest data revealed by Indian Space Association, homegrown space-tech startups have received funding of nearly $294 million, with $37.62 million added in 2023 itself.

By the second quarter of 2024, Digantra founders are looking to release its software platform in the market as a SaaS model. In the initial phase of this launch, it will be available as a beta service to government agencies in India and Singapore. Looking to increase its reach, the founders of Digantra soon aim to work with the U.K. government as well.

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