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4 Indian Companies in the Exploding Drone Market

May 17, 2022

Back in 2018, Zomato CEO Deepinder Goyal headlined the front pages of financial dailies.

The founder of one of India's largest food delivery company - Zomato used the opportunity to unveil delivery via drones, a radical new concept that holds the promise of more rapid delivery.

At some point in the future, Goyal said, with the help of a drone startup TechEagle, they will build something which will certainly play a significant role in the future of primary and secondary logistics in the food supply chain.

Since then, companies from different industries have followed suit. They've understood the multiple use cases of drones and want a piece of the pie.

Take the mining sector, for instance. These companies are spending heavily to equip themselves with drones for regular business operations.

Then there's oil exploration companies like Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), which plan to use drones to monitor pipelines for safe operations.

There's agriculture companies like Dhanuka Agritech making large investments to promote the use of drone technology in the agriculture sector to boost crop production.

Logistics companies can't rule out drones as they help deliver essentials including vaccines from one place to another in a short span.

Drones also help telecom companies maintain telecom towers and survey potential new tower locations.

These were just a few examples. Other companies have also deployed drones.

There was a time when there was little or no movement in the drone space. Everyone knew that the technology existed, but regulations made it difficult to move forward.

That, however, changed when the Indian government started taking various steps and gave drones a different set of wings to fly.

In August 2021, the foundation was led when New Drone rules 2021 were announced.

Then came the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for making drones which further improved sentiment.

Most recently, the government released the list of companies selected to be the beneficiaries of the PLI scheme. Among listed stocks, Infosys (via IdeaForge Technology), Adani group (via Adani's JV with Israeli firm Elbit) and Paras Defence (via subsidiary Paras Aerospace) are the ones likely to benefit.

The hype surrounding drones is so big that India's biggest corporates have taken a plunge into this exciting new trend. Adani, Reliance, Vedanta and the likes...

The companies involved in this space directly or indirectly are still very few. Recently we wrote about the top 4 that have powered up and looking to ride the coming drone revolution.

Continue reading...

Drones are officially known as Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and are beneficial for different sectors depending on their needs.

These sectors include transportation, agriculture, law enforcement, surveillance, and most important of all - defence.

Take for example Zomato and Swiggy. Both these online food aggregators are discussing food delivery via drones.

Companies involved in the drone industry in India have sighed a huge relief after the government announced new drone rules last month on 26 August.

The liberalised policy depends on self-regulation and non-intrusive monitoring rather than enforced regulation.

The new rules replaced the Unmanned Aircraft System Rules 2021 the Ministry of Civil Aviation had notified five months ago.

So what are these new rules?

Well, the new drone rules aim to ease the process of using drones in India for various purposes, including non-commercial use.

Under the new rules, you will not need any security clearance to operate and fly tiny drones. In addition, the government is carving out drone corridors to facilitate delivery of cargo deliveries.

There would be no government intrusion for drone use in India. With this, the government is hoping to trigger growth of drone usage in multiple industries.

Earlier, the Indian government had mandated a series of approvals including unique authorisation number, a unique prototype identification number, etc.

Now with these new rules, none of the approvals are required.

The centre has also increased the payload of drones from 300 kilograms to 500 kilograms.

Apart from the above, there were many more rules notified by the government. You can read them here.

So, which companies will benefit from the new rules?

Here are few Indian companies which are chasing the exploding drone market.

#1 Info Edge (India)

Info Edge (India) has made investments in Bengaluru-based Skylark Drones.

In July 2021, Skylark Drones raised US$3 m (about Rs 220 m) in its pre-Series A funding round co-led by Info Edge Ventures and Indian Angel Network (IAN) fund.

Swiggy has partnered with Skylark to test out its drone delivery system.

Founded in 2014, Skylark Drones provides work-site intelligence to enable accurate business decision-making using drone data.

The company has offices in the US and India, and it claims to be helping 100 enterprise clients, who have processed over 1 m images and 20,000 autonomous flights via its platform.

#2 DCM Shriram Industries

In August 2021, DCM Shriram Industries announced an arrangement with Zyrone Dynamics, a Turkish UAV and drone manufacturer.

Under this arrangement, 30% of the firm's shares were bought by DCM Shriram Industries for US$1 m, giving it a total valuation of US$3.5 m.

DCM was looking to invest in Zyrone for a long time but due to the pandemic conditions, the negotiation period stretched to 18 months.

Under the partnership, Zyrone will be providing DCM Shriram Industries with technological support and both parties will support each other in marketing the products in India and around the globe.

Zyrone Dynamics specialises in manufacturing small rotary-wing drones. Zyrone Dynamics has been promoting small drones that it calls 'variable volume' UAVs.

#3 Zen Technologies

Zen Technologies is a leading provider defence training solutions, headquartered in Hyderabad with offices in India and USA.

The company designs, develops and manufactures state-of-the-art combat training solutions for the training of defence and security forces worldwide.

The company manufactures land based military training simulators, driving simulators, live range equipment, and anti-drone systems.

Heavy lift logistics drones (HLLDs) from Zen Technologies offer advanced capabilities to fulfil the role of providing reliable logistics support in challenging environments and even in combat situations.

Its share price has spiked significantly after the government notified new rules.

This was after the company informed exchanges that its order book witnessed a significant surge to Rs 4 bn as on 1 September 2021, as against an order book of Rs 1.9 bn on 30 June 2021.

Multibagger returns in less than a month, all thanks to the company bagging multiple orders for defence technology and manufacturing.

The company is almost debt free.

In its latest annual report, the company said India is targeting to export military equipment worth US$5 bn in the next five years. With this, Zen Tech's exports will accelerate.

The company is also focusing on large export opportunities within the Middle East, CIS, and Africa. It's dedicating a core team to pursue business opportunities in the USA and other friendly countries.

Update: As of March 2022, Zen Technologies' total order book stands at Rs 4.8 bn, including Rs 3.1 bn in the domestic market and Rs 1.7 bn in export orders.

#4 RattanIndia Enterprises

In August 2021, RattanIndia Enterprises made a strategic investment in US-based Matternet, the world's most extensive urban drone logistics platform.

It also announced the formation of an Indian subsidiary NeoSky to kickstart the drone business in India.

For this, the company invested an initial amount of Rs 1 bn. NeoSky will design, manufacture and sell micro drones across India.

Ever since the news came out, shares of the company have been on a roll. After languishing near the same level for around three years, RattanIndia shares spiked and spiked hard.

Update: The company is yet to start the rollout of drones and other products and expects to commence by the first quarter of 2023.

RattanIndia Enterprises is the flagship company of RattanIndia group for its new age growth businesses.

Apart from drones, the company has also forayed into electric mobility space through Revolt Motors to democratise clean commute using next-gen mobility solutions.

It also has investment in fintech business (via Bankse) and online retail (via Cocoblu).

The company has committed around Rs 30 bn for investment in four businesses and it appears Mr Market has already factored this in its share price.

Startups involved in drone technology

India is focusing more on being self-reliant. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, while addressing the audience at an industry event, revealed that the government is aiming to bring down defence imports by at least US$2 bn by next year.

India has more than 190 defence tech startups building innovative tech solutions to empower and support the country's defence efforts.

Here are a few of them involved in drone technology.

EyeROV - Founded in 2016 by Johns T Mathai, and Kannappa Palaniappan P, EyeROV is currently developing India's first commercial underwater drone for remote inspection of offshore assets.

Vinveli - Iowa and Chennai-based Vinveli is building indigenous drones for special forces under the Ministry of Home Affairs.

ideaForge - This drone startup claims to have over 90% of the market share in the security and surveillance segment.

The company is involved in manufacturing drones for defence, homeland security, and industrial applications.

A Multi-Billion Dollar Industry

The drone industry in India is expected to gain momentum. India is estimated to develop a multibillion-dollar drone industry in this decade.

According to global market intelligence and advisory firm, the global drone market, which is currently dominated by US, China, and Israel, will touch US$28.47 bn this year and India will comprise about 4.25% of that.

The foundation of growth has been led by the new Drone Rules 2021. With rising number of drone training institutes, India will not be far behind.

Along with the electric vehicle (EV) revolution, the drone revolution is happening side by side.

Co-head of Research at Equitymaster, Tanushree Banerjee keeps a close watch on stocks from this space.

Infact, as per Tanushree, India's drone revolution is a 4x profit opportunity. She has identified a little known drone company with immense potential.

Back in July 2021, she also recorded a video about India's best drone stocks.

Disclaimer: This article is for information purposes only. It is not a stock recommendation and should not be treated as such. Learn more about our recommendation services here...

FAQs on Drone Stocks

1) Which are the best drone stocks in India?

Infosys, Info Edge, DCM Shriram Industries, Zen Technologies and RattanIndia Enterprises, among others, are some of the popular listed companies in India that have invested in the drone space.

For more, check out Equitymaster's stock screener for filtering the best drone stocks in India.

2) Which is the largest drone manufacturer in India?

The drone industry in India is yet to gain momentum. While there are no listed pure drone manufacturers, India has more than 190 defence tech startups building innovative tech solutions to empower and support the country's defence efforts.

There are also defence companies which are manufacturing drones.

Here are a few of the startups involved in drone technology - EyeROV, Vinveli, and ideaForge.

3) Where can I find a list of drone stocks in India?

The list of drone stocks can be found on the NSE and BSE website. However, the overload of financial information on these websites can be overwhelming.

So we recommend you to take a look at our list of drone stocks for a more direct and concise view.

You can also compare these companies on various metrics using Equitymaster's Indian stock screener and read our guide on how to invest in drone stocks.

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1 Responses to "4 Indian Companies in the Exploding Drone Market"

Shaishav Vora

Oct 2, 2021

Very interesting article. Well ahead of others. But can't some more specifc details be provided of the investments made. eg. WHat is the management of INfo Edge thinking about the prospects of Skylark Drones, what was the thought process behind inevsting in Skylark, what kind of growth they foresee etc. Basically information which will enlighten the common readers to understand the drone dynamics better, its potential, challenges & opportunities.

But deifinitely a good article & good beginning.

Such articles should help your subscribers in buying stocks much ahead of others so that they can makemoney & benifit from the subscription

Equitymaster requests your view! Post a comment on "4 Indian Companies in the Exploding Drone Market". Click here!