Startup Street: Indian Startup Gets Another Chance To Land Rover On Moon
This week on Startup Street, Indian startup TeamIndus’ hopes of landing a rover on the moon have been revived. The government considers making life easier for startups with a tax concession on angel funding. Elon Musk’s Hyperloop dream has a challenger. And Cisco says it will set up an incubator in Kerala. Here’s what went on:
TeamIndus Gets Second Attempt At A Moonshot
TeamIndus will get another chance at soft-landing a rover on the moon as the Lunar XPRIZE mission has been revived after being called off earlier this year.
The non-profit XPRIZE Foundation authorities announced their plan to continue the mission, but now have parted ways with their earlier title sponsor Google, according to a blog post. The competition is now also seeking a new title sponsor.
The $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE went unclaimed after all five finalists missed the March 31, 2018 deadline to reach the moon. The Google Lunar XPRIZE was started in 2007 where participants had to land a rover on the moon’s surface, travel at least 500 metres and transmit images back to earth.
Bengaluru-based space startup TeamIndus was competing with Israel’s Space IL, Moon Express and Synergy Moon from the U.S. and Hakuto from Japan.
The Lunar XPRIZE will now operate as a non-cash competition. Over the next few months, the foundation will define parameters for the revived competition.
“It’s time to make it happen,” Rahul Narayan, TeamIndus founder, tweeted. “The Google Lunar XPRIZE served as an excellent early catalyst to get new people, partners and money involved, and a new Lunar Xrpize will be a perfectly timed platform.”
TeamIndus’ rover is called ECA, an abbreviation for Ek Choti si Asha (a small hope).
You can see how the design for the rover has evolved over the years here.
Tax Concession On Angel Funding?
The Indian government is mulling a tax concession for startups, with an upper limit, on the funding they get from angel investors, PTI reported quoting an unnamed senior government official.
The idea is not to tax risky investments and the government is trying to make a mechanism for that, the official said. It will come out with a notification soon on this and another notification will be issued by the income tax department, the official said.
Startups have raised concerns over taxing angel funds under Section 56 of the Income Tax Act. A number of startups and investors even got notices. The government is mulling to extend the tax concession with retrospective effect to certain startups, the official said.
The report comes a week after the Securities Exchange Board of India eased the rules for angel funding to early-stage startups and increased the maximum limit.
Canadian Startup Challenging Musk At His Own Game
TransPod, a Toronto-based startup, is looking to raise $50 million for its own version of the Hyperloop technology that it claims is cheaper and better.
“Musk’s concept is brilliant, but it’s filled with errors,” said TransPod’s chief Sebastien Gendron in an interview to Bloomberg. “We have a more modest, but also cheaper and regulation-oriented approach.”
Gendron wants to build the super-fast transportation system to rival similar projects backed by Elon Musk and Richard Branson. TransPod’s patented technology will use magnets and electric tracks to propel pods through a 2-mile-long vaccum tunnel that’s designed to cut friction.
Musk’s idea of a Hyperloop, envisaged nearly half a decade ago, relies on air bearings and is driven by induction motors and air compressors.
“We’re going to disrupt everything,” said Gendron, who has previously worked with aerospace giants Airbus SE and Bombardier Inc. TransPod’s system, he said, will contain costs by using existing technology for plane fuselage and pressurised cabins.
The startup is scouting around for sites including near Orleans in France and Calgary, Alberta to build a full-sized model by 2021.
Cisco To Set Up Incubator In Kerala
Networking giant Cisco will set up a startup incubator at the Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management in Kerala for developing entrepreneurial ideas in the Internet of Things space.
A memorandum of understanding was inked between Nasscom Foundation and Kerala’s Chief Secretary Paul Antony at the two-day startup conclave Huddle Kerala. The congregation is one of Asia's largest startup events.
Cisco’s thinQbator will be a Internet of Things laboratory and a “makerspace” that gives creators access to technology to develop their ideas, according to newswire PTI.
The incubator is a project under the Cisco’s corporate social responsibility mandate and will be implemented by Nasscom. The aim is to improve skill and entrepreneurship at the school and college level.