The EIF/EC announcement at the European Space Conference was of investment into two space tech focused funds - Orbital Ventures and Primo Space, under the first ever EU-backed equity pilot - the InnovFin Space Equity Pilot. An additional investment expected to be signed by end of Q1 will mark the full deployment of the €100m InnovFin Space Equity Pilot. These agreements are supported by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the central pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe.
Orbital Ventures, a Luxembourg based early stage fund, focuses on space technologies including downstream (communications, cryptography, data storage and processing, geolocation, earth observation) and upstream (space hardware, materials, electronics, robotics, rockets, satellites) areas. Primo Space, an Italian early-stage tech transfer investor, was the first fund selected by the EIF under this pilot; EIF is now increasing its support. The fund is one of the first technology transfer funds only focused on space technologies in Europe, and the first one in Italy, in which the Italian Space Agency is an active stakeholder. The fund invests in proof-of-concept, seed and early stages projects or companies, and will foster the commercialisation of breakthrough innovations in the space industry in Europe.
"These transactions, benefiting from the InnovFin Space Equity Pilot, will help to bolster private equity for innovative SMEs and start-ups in the space sector," said Research and Innovation Commissioner Mariya Gabriel: "The investments in Orbital Ventures and Primo Space is a testimony to Europe's booming space sector and demonstrates our commitment to supporting companies with breakthrough ideas and technologies."
The signatures today with Orbital Ventures and Primo Space benefit from financing from the InnovFin Space Equity Pilot. This pilot is a €100 million programme under InnovFin, specifically dedicated to support the innovation and growth of European SMEs operating in the sector of space technologies. The programme is investing into venture capital funds across the EU, which support companies commercialising new products and services in the space sector, as well as into companies.
To-date, EIF has made one co-investment alongside the Polish VC fund OTB Fund into the Finnish company ICEYE, as well as several investments into specialised Space funds (Primo Space, Orbital Ventures) and deeptech funds having a particular Space focus (UnternehmerTUM VC Fonds III), attracting €300m of space investment to the sector. It is expected that the InnovFin Space Equity Pilot will be fully deployed in the coming weeks and support around 50 space tech companies across Europe.
The EIF is part of the European Investment Bank Group. Its central mission is to support Europe's micro, small and medium-sized businesses by helping them to access finance. EIF designs and develops both venture and growth capital, guarantees and microfinance instruments which specifically target this market segment. In this role, EIF fosters EU objectives in support of innovation, research and development, entrepreneurship, growth and employment.