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Antrix Corporation, ISRO’s commercial entity, takes up direct overseas marketing of IRS data

Bangalore, India, 23 October 2006 – Antrix Corporation, ISRO’s commercial entity, has quietly taken up direct overseas marketing of Indian remote-sensing (IRS) data. It is curtains for its decade-old tie-up with the erstwhile Space Imaging Corp, which was selling the data almost across the world.

Antrix’s Executive Director K.R. Sridhara Murthi confirmed that his company now deals with its overseas markets for IRS imageries directly. The exclusive arrangement with Space Imaging (SI), its marketing ally since 1994, ceased automatically when Orbimage acquired the US-based SI earlier this year, Mr Murthi said.

In January 2004, Antrix and SI extended a contract to market downlinks and imageries from ISRO’s Resourcesat. Now, Antrix has worked out an understanding with GeoEye – the post-merger entity of SI and Orbimage – to service part of that older deal, according to Mr Murthi.

The new `direct’ strategy “would involve expanding reseller network; selective licensing and addition of international ground stations for future satellites; and engagement of dedicated market alliances that work exclusively to enhance the IRS brand impact.”

Antrix has linked up with a polar station in Norway for downlinks and may set up one in Antarctica. Tie-ups are happening with resellers in Turkey, Brazil, Canada, Greece and Australia. It would also rely on international ground stations for easy downlink and territorial market development.

The market mix would also warrant strengthening Antrix’s 50-strong core marketing and customer support team, all at an investment of around $ 2 million (about Rs. 9 crore) over the next couple of years, Mr Murthi said.

The move to go it alone reportedly also stems from the successor company’s waning commitment to building ISRO’s pie in a highly volatile $1-billion-strong imagery market. That, in turn, is because US sellers are said to be anyway nurtured well by US geospatial-intelligence agencies such as the NGA that buy up the bulk of high-resolution data for the military under special federal programmes.

So far, Indian imagery products and services worth $60 million (about Rs 270 crore) have been exported worldwide. ISRO entered the global Earth imageries market with a bang in 1994 with IRS-1C data and quickly gained ground against established US and French players. Today, it is one of the three top producers of high-quality data.

This would soon include the one-metre data that will be commercially available from the upcoming Cartosat-2; and significantly boost Antrix’s revenue (of over USD 88 million) and market share when that happens, Mr Murthi said.