Chennai-based spacetech startup Agnikul has raised INR 23.4 Cr ($3.1 Mn) in a Pre-Series A funding round. The investment has been led by pi Ventures with participation from Hari Kumar (LionRock Capital), Artha Ventures, LetsVenture, Globevestor, CIIE and existing investor Speciale Invest.
The company said it plans to use the funds towards ground testing, fabrication and team expansion. The company has designed a rocket engine which can be printed using 3D printing technology. AgniKul’s team includes engineers, former bankers, and space law experts.
Founded in 2017 by Srinath Ravichandran and Moin SPM, Agnikul is developing a satellite launch vehicle for a payload capacity of up to 100 Kg. The vehicle is configurable and can support a payload range of 30-100 Kg without impacting the commercial aspects of the misisons.
The company is operating out of National Centre for Combustion Research at IIT Chennai. Since the engine is fully 3D-printed, the manufacturing complexity associated with traditional rocket engines is moved to the design in their case, making it an easier and cheaper fabrication process that will be able to deliver launch vehicles within a few weeks, pretty much on demand.
Srinath Ravichandran, cofounder and CEO, Agnikul, said, “We started Agnikul with the dream of bringing space within everyone’s reach. We are doing this by building nimble, reliable and modular rockets that can put small satellites in space on-demand.”
At present, investors are eyeing a new set of emerging space startups in India. Earlier, most space expedition was backed by the government. Currently, there is a mix of private players, investors and entrepreneurs and the government supporting the space startups in India.
Manish Singhal, founding partner, pi Ventures, said, “I have always believed that India has the potential and the talent to create world-beating IPs and products, not just in the digital domain but also beyond. If done right, there is no doubt in my mind that India can be a leader in innovation on a global platform.”
Last year, ISRO had announced to launch incubators across India to mentor space startups. The Indian space agency worked closely with startups to build newer solutions in rocketry communication satellites, and various remote sensing data among others.
Bellatrix recently raised $3 Mn in a Pre-Series A round led by IDFC-Parampara, StartupXSeed, Karsemven Fund (KITVEN) and Survam Partners at a valuation of $10 Mn. In September 2019, Mumbai-based spacetech startup Kawa Space also raised an undisclosed amount from Paytm founder Vijay Shekar Sharma as part of its Pre-Series A funding round.