Maybe it’s the fact that the next foray into the Star Wars universe is hitting the big screens in a few weeks’ time but exploring the final frontier seems to be more popular than ever amongst innovators. Not only has Space X, the space-exploration company, announced plans to launch interplanetary journeys to Mars in the next decade but British startups are also eyeing the opportunities offered to help them break through the stratosphere. And now it seems that those aspirations are one step closer to take-off as a new fund has been launched to invest in emerging space-tech startups.
Backed by a £30m investment from the British Business Bank alongside smart capital from leading international space companies, family offices and individual investors, Seraphim Capital, the investment firm, is targeting to grow the fund to £80m during the next two quarters. The largest of its kind, the Seraphim Space Fund will invest in early stage startups developing tech with space applications, whether that be software, hardware, artificial intelligence, robotics or nanomaterials.
Commenting on the fund, Mark Boggett, CEO of Seraphim Capital, said it would be especially interested in startups using digital data from satellites. “Many of the emerging new technologies that are moulding the future – from drones and autonomous vehicles to the internet of things – are ultimately underpinned by digital data from satellites,” he said. “Just as low-cost personal computing in the 1990s and the internet in the 2000s acted as a catalyst for waves of new technology innovations, the evidence is that low-cost access to space will come to define the decade ahead.”
The fund also benefits from a strategic partnership with the European Space Agency that will provide access to space infrastructures, as well as links to companies with a portfolio of hundreds of hardware application projects and businesses in the agency’s 16 pan-European incubators. In the UK, the Seraphim Space Fund will be supported by new initiatives led by the Satellite Applications Catapult, the space-innovation incubator backed by Innovate UK, and UK Space Tech Angels, a new venture from London Business Angels.
Additionally, Greg Clark, secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy said that the launch will help the government reach its goal of growing the value of the UK space sector to £40 billion by 2030 and that it will “cement our place at the heart of the space and satellite technology and startup revolution.”
Given this healthy injection of funds into the sector, it’s safe to say that the space race is definitely on. Thrusters on full. Engage warp drive.