Ahead of its ambitious manned mission 'Gaganyaan' to space by 2022, India's elite space agency Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is in the process of setting up 6 incubation centres and the same number of research and development centres across the country over the next one year.

One of the six incubator centres called as 'ISRO-Space Technology Incubation Center (S-TIC)' was already opened in Agartala in September at the ‘Spacetronics’ conclave. In addition to this, ISRO plans to build five more such incubators in cities like Agartala that are likely accessible to ISRO centres around the country.

The five remaining centres will be established in Jalandhar, Bhubaneswar, Nagpur, Indore and Tiruchirapalli. Each centre is likely to cost Rs 2 crore to establish.

These incubation centres will promote start-ups and give thrust to innovations and research in space technologies. They will be opened wherever there is presence of academia and industrialists. The centres will help startups develop prototypes of components in space systems in partnership with the industry. ISRO will evaluate these prototypes and buy them depending upon their worthiness.

Additionally, ISRO will also provide the seed capital to these startups and will also bear the cost of infrastructure and provide initial funds to startups for space equipment, according to a statement by ISRO chairman K Sivan, to Times of India.

Space Technology Incubation Centre (S-TIC) is a novel concept conceived by ISRO to tie up the Academia, Industry and R&D institutions in different regions of the country.

S-TIC will provide projects of importance to the ongoing and futuristic programmes of ISRO for the Research, Post Graduate and Under Graduate students. This is expected to inculcate much required research culture among the student community. The final year students will be exposed to the problems of relevance and importance to ISRO and proof of concept or prototype developed by them will be validated through nearby tie-up industries.

The products/prototypes -- developed at S-TIC -- once realized will be validated and qualified in the existing facilities of ISRO. Once qualified, they can be inducted in the on-going projects of ISRO and buy back arrangement can be made. Through this, it is hoped to enthuse students to think differently to initiate start-up enterprises which can generate employment.

Earlier in March this year, ISRO has also tied up with Kerala state government to set up India's first of its kind ‘space park’ for which ISRO will provide the technical support. With this, ISRO along with Kerala government want to incubate and promote startups in the satellite and space technology sector by launching an incubator for spacetech startups in the country. However, instead of Kerala, ISRO eventually launched its first incubator in Tripura.

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