Taiwan launches its first international SpaceTech startup collaboration project

Vyra Wu, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0

TADTE 2023. Credit: TAcc+

In the domain of space technology, Taiwan stands out for its expertise in ground equipment. According to the Satellite Industry Association (SIA), Taiwan's contribution among the total global industry value of US$145 billion, is approximately US$7 billion (equivalent to around 5%) in 2022, establishing it as a notable participant within the international space supply chain. Nevertheless, Taiwan's enduring commitment revolves around sustainable pursuits such as satellite application services, satellite manufacturing, rocket launches, and the application of commercial space stations.

In the context of Taiwan's emerging and thriving space ecosystem, the TAcc+ (Taiwan Accelerator Plus) 2023 International SpaceTech Startup Supporting Program serves as a vital bridge. The advisor of the program is the Small and Medium Enterprise Administration (SMEA), and the program is organized by Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) and TAcc+. The program has established connections between international SpaceTech startups and prominent global space collaborators such as National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). This initiative plays a crucial role in advancing Taiwan's space industry.

Through comprehensive on-site training and rigorous assessment, a total of 16 SpaceTech startups originating from Europe, the Americas, and the Asia-Pacific region were carefully selected. Among them, half of the startups come from India.

These startups embarked on a visit to Taiwan spanning from mid-August to mid-September, immersing themselves in various industry sectors including satellite manufacturing, satellite services, space applications, and rocket launches. Their recent engagement with TASA, ITRI, research institutes and key companies in Taiwan enabled them to comprehend the vision and aspirations held by Taiwan in the realm of space technology, as well as a deeper understanding of the research and development landscape within Taiwan.

Below, you will find profiles highlighting distinctive cases among these emerging startups.

Astrogate Labs

Astrogate Labs from India, offers a comprehensive space-to-ground laser communication solution that encompasses a satellite terminal and an optical ground station, presented as a service. The company's innovative approach aims to alleviate the data downlink challenges faced by satellite constellation operators in the era of small satellites and the new space economy. These operators are grappling with data congestion on existing radio-frequency systems, hindered by the increasing number of satellites and limited spectrum availability. Astrogate Labs has taken a ground-up approach to develop laser communication systems, including precision, pointing, and tracking systems essential for enabling efficient laser communication across mobile platforms spanning great distances. Their current offering features a 0.8 U satellite terminal capable of achieving link speeds exceeding 1 Gbps through their compact optical ground station. Furthermore, the company is actively engaged in the development of laser communication terminals for inter-satellite links, with prototypes set for release in 2024.

Satellite laser communication stands as a burgeoning technology with only a select few global organizations actively pursuing its development. Astrogate Labs stands apart by offering end-to-end laser communication solutions tailored for small operators, presenting their cutting-edge technology and products. Notably, their terminals are designed to be compact, cost-effective, and optimized for small-satellite applications. The company's overarching objective is to establish optical/laser ground stations while providing satellite data downlink services to their clientele.

Astrogate Labs envisions collaboration opportunities that align with Taiwan's burgeoning space technology industry through the lens of TASA's vision. Given Taiwan's leadership in the semiconductor sector, the company also aims to establish strategic supply chain partnerships for electro-optic components. This approach reflects their commitment to both advancing the space tech landscape and leveraging Taiwan's expertise to drive their innovative solutions forward.

Nitish Singh, co-founder & CEO of Astrogate Labs, perceives specific opportunities where their laser communication system could potentially align well with TASA's program. However, they acknowledge certain challenges in directly engaging with the government-based agency. To explore the ecosystem around that, "the collaboration with the research institute would be the most likely thing. There our research goals are getting aligned and the academic partner or even industry who is doing the research work specifically for TASA projects. I think that would be the best way to combine and proceed ahead."

Astrogate Labs expressed strong interest in collaborating with several universities, including NCU, known for Dr. Loren Chang's work in small satellite development. Additionally, they explored potential partnerships with Researcher Ting-Ming Huang from Taiwan Instrument Research Institute, known for his expertise in optics and lasers.

Delta-V Analytics

Another Indian startup, Delta-V Analytics, emphasizes the transformative potential of simulation, digital twins, and software in space tech. SAT-PASS, their cloud-based platform is reshaping the landscape of satellite manufacturing and operational processes, ushering in a new era of efficiency and sustainability. The core of SAT-PASS lies in the fusion of artificial intelligence, digital twin technology, and sustainable practices, presenting an all-encompassing solution that spans the entire satellite lifecycle—from initial conceptualization to real-time operational management.

In the crucial pre-launch phase, SAT-PASS introduces a revolutionary approach: the creation of a digital twin for each satellite. This digital twin is a virtual counterpart that seamlessly integrates real-world data and physics-based models. This fusion empowers designers and engineers to engage in meticulous design and compatibility testing, streamlining the design phase while elevating the overall quality of satellite systems. By conducting comprehensive pre-launch tests within simulated real-world conditions, potential risks are proactively addressed, conserving invaluable resources. Notably, AI-driven anomaly detection stands as a safeguard against potential manufacturing irregularities, further enhancing the quality assurance process.

Following the satellite's successful launch, SAT-PASS continues to play a pivotal role in its ongoing operation. The digital twin technology serves as a bridge that facilitates real-time interaction between the physical satellite and its virtual counterpart. This unique synergy empowers satellite operators with unparalleled insights into the satellite's behavior across various scenarios and conditions. The instantaneous connectivity forged by this technology enables operators to swiftly and accurately address emerging issues, effectively bolstering operational efficiency. Complementing this capability is AI-powered anomaly detection, which remains vigilant in detecting and responding to deviations from established norms.

The emergence of SAT-PASS stands as a testament to Delta-V Analytics' mastery across diverse domains, including space technology, robotics, and computing. This cutting-edge platform harnesses the potential of digital twin technology, AI-driven fault detection, and real-time monitoring to revolutionize satellite design, manufacturing, and operations. The result is an unprecedented level of efficiency and sustainability that promises to shape the future of satellite technology.

"Taiwan's space industry, while budding, shows immense promise. Instead of positioning ourselves as solution providers, we emphasize the significance of mutual learning, adaptation, and co-development." said Naushad Rahman, founder and CEO of Delta-V Analytics.

He also mentioned the engagement with Taiwanese tech companies: "Our partnership with Tensor Tech is unique as they were the first Taiwanese company to collaborate with us since 2021, and their dedication to innovation and growth perfectly matches our vision. Our initial talks with Rapidtek focused on CubeSat technology and a shared vision to utilize innovative solutions, like AI-driven fault detection and digital twin technology. With Liscotech, our conversations were more exploratory, understanding their unique challenges and potential technological solutions that might be beneficial in their context."

InspeCity Space Laboratories

Also hailing from India, InspeCity has emerged as a notable player in the aerospace arena, offering an array of pioneering products and services that encompass in-space transportation, orbital refueling, debris removal, and on-orbit satellite maintenance. Their overarching ambition revolves around establishing an enduring presence in space, marked by the ambitious construction of the world's inaugural "city in space."

The ingenuity of InspeCity's solutions shines through their advanced green propulsion systems and innovative in-orbit Servicing technologies. These cutting-edge offerings find multifaceted applications, ranging from satellite propulsion and maintenance to deorbiting maneuvers. The company's commitment to the aerospace sector centers on providing eco-friendly propulsion solutions and comprehensive servicing capabilities, all geared towards extending the operational lifespan of satellites.

The competitive edge inherent in InspeCity's solutions is underscored by their eco-friendliness, fuel efficiency, and adaptability. In a market increasingly driven by concerns for the environment and operational effectiveness, their systems offer a sustainable alternative, while their In-orbit Servicing technologies contribute to heightened satellite longevity and safety.

Of particular note is the acquisition of a defense contract that underscores the reliability and adaptability of InspeCity's system for mission-critical applications. In the imminent months, the company is poised to demonstrate the prowess of its propulsion system on the ISRO PSLV-QL platform. Additionally, a strategic collaboration with satellite provider XDLinx Labs is set to witness the integration of InspeCity's propulsion system onto a private satellite.

During their visit, InspeCity aims to cultivate relationships with specialized vendors focusing on essential components such as valves and transducers, pivotal for their propulsion and servicing systems. This visit serves a dual purpose—strengthening partnerships and exploring new horizons—while aligning with the advancements in Taiwan's thriving aerospace sector.

Arun Radhakrishnan, head of business development and strategy, admitted initially the focus was on identifying alternative suppliers. However, upon visiting Taiwanese peers, such as Aegiverse, Letscom, and Tensor Tech, he saw the potential for mutual collaboration, with the possibility of them becoming long-term customers. "We'll be signing NDAs with, three out of four of these companies. We have asked them to either manufacture certain components for us, we would be providing them the design. In certain cases, we feel that we can have a next level of cooperation in terms of helping them qualify certain subsystems for space heritage."

A lot of the world's partners are looking towards India for launch access. Arun regards that Taiwan could leverage Indian launch services, but at the same time, India is still incentivizing on PIL schemes from the government to build up manufacturing and research capacity.

From his perspective, he believes that Indian research products will potentially be outsourced directly to Taiwan due to the silicon island's manufacturing prowess. Additionally, he notes that the companies they've engaged with thus far offer notably shorter lead times, not only compared to India but also compared to the rest of the world. This advantage stands out significantly.


SpaceDrone has garnered robust support from esteemed entities including CNES, the French space agency, ONERA, the French aerospace lab, as well as the European Space Agency (ESA). Alongside these institutional endorsements, private enterprises like ArianeGroup, renowned for their Ariane launcher series, and Arianespace, a prominent launch operator, contribute to the collaborative foundation.

Employing a strategic amalgamation of approaches, SpaceDrone has orchestrated an accelerated development trajectory aimed at realizing their optimized go-to-market objective within an ambitious timeframe of 24 months. For the radio-frequency communication facet, key components of the solution encompass standardized subsystems like multi-band RF communication chipsets and antennas. The integration strategy revolves around leveraging off-the-shelf components and modules, seamlessly weaving them into SpaceDrone's distinctive innovations. In the realm of optical communication, the majority of solution elements are meticulously developed in-house, fostering a bespoke approach. When feasible, standard subsystems are seamlessly incorporated into the company's specialized endeavors, further streamlining the developmental process.

At the forthcoming Taipei International Aerospace & Defense Industry Exhibition, SpaceDrone is poised to unveil their ongoing projects, prominently featuring the SHC hybrid ground station and its optical communication capabilities. Additionally, the spotlight will shine on the SmartDrone, an autonomous orbital platform boasting a multifaceted portfolio. This includes the Smart OTV, engineered to position a constellation of small satellites into multi-planar orbits, as well as the StarLab—a microgravity service module equipped with reentry capabilities. "This replaces a big satellite in orbit, and it is a more efficient and more real-time solution. It is currently a solution which will deploy very fast to facilitate satellite operation services in the next few years." said Roger Perié, founder and CEO of SpaceDrone.

Taiwan's aerospace ecosystem offers a lot of technological elements we need to implement our projects. So for SpaceDorne, it is clear that it offers a shared project with the possibility to obtain customized solutions. as well as relatively short delivery time are very important points to accelerate our technological developments and allow an optimal to go to market. We have begun discussing different types of possible partnerships and that these companies like Rapidtek and others are very responsive to our proposal. So... I think it is a very good point for us for the implementation of our subsidiary in Taiwan, it could be in 2024. Probably in the quarter 3 or 4.

He observed that Taiwan's aerospace ecosystem provides a wealth of technological resources essential for SpaceDrone's projects, allowing for tailored solutions with quick delivery times. Their initial discussions with various potential partners, including Rapidtek and others, have yielded positive responses to their proposals. Consequently, Roger Perié views the establishment of a subsidiary in Taiwan, potentially in 2024 during the third or fourth quarter, as a highly favorable prospect.

Moreover, SpaceDrone has the chance to embark two small satellites into orbit through the ESA's Ariane 6 maiden flight scheduled for 2024 European satellite launching program. This program, initiated by the European Union Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA), is an ambitious endeavor aimed at placing IRIS2, a constellation of 170 small satellites in orbit for competitive positioning against Starlink or OneWeb.

"We are discussing with potential partners in Taiwan, to put these products on Cubesat for validation and qualification in orbit. So this is a really good opportunity for them and us." Roger Perié added.

Recognizing the recent engagement opportunities, these international space startups contemplated the possibility of establishing a subsidiary in Taiwan and forging a partnership with Taiwan's nascent yet burgeoning space ecosystem on projects critical to specific current and future market segments.

Academia-Industry Collaboration Forum

Academia-Industry Collaboration Forum
Photo: TAcc+