European Investment Fund Announces €300 Million of Space Sector Finance with New Investments into Orbital Ventures & Primo Space

  • EIF attracts €300 million to support the innovation and growth of European smaller and medium-sized space technology companies under the InnovFin Space Equity Pilot,
  • New agreements with Orbital Ventures SCA SICAV-RAIF and Primo Space announced at the European Space Conference in Brussels.
  • The EIF’s participation is backed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the main pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe.

LUXEMBOURG (EIF PR) — The European Investment Fund (EIF) is partnering with the European Commission, to announce €300 million of investments into the EU space sector, supporting ground-breaking innovation in the industry.

During the European Space Conference in Brussels, EIF and the EC jointly announced investments 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.

EU Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton, said: “Bolstering competitiveness in the space industry is an essential element for the recovery of the sector. I strongly welcome this investment into space technology SMEs, which brings us closer to our digital transition goal. This supports the development of European space start-ups and shows that the European space business is booming.”

EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel, said: “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. 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 investments in the space sector announced today demonstrate how public support can be deployed to attract private investment and catalyse the development of this sector in the EU. We are pleased to be supporting new players in the European landscape, focusing on seed and early stage space-related VC opportunities.” said EIF Chief Executive, Alain Godard. “Orbital Ventures and Primo Space will play a vital role in supporting the space ecosystem and EU space-related start-ups. Attracting more private capital to this sector enables us together to reach new heights.”

Pierre Festal, Partner at Orbital Ventures said: “We are delighted to partner with the EIF to back New Space entrepreneurs and early stage start-ups across Europe and globally. The New Space sector is at an inflection point and start-ups have an important role to play in the development of new technologies and applications to fully realize the industry’s potential. Europe, with a strong track record of innovation in the sector and support from the continent’s institutions, has a leading role to play in this revolution.”

The support of EIF has been instrumental to attract new private investors in Primo Space,” said Gianluca Dettori, Chairman of Primomiglio, “we will be fundraising until the summer and we see growing interest from investors to be exposed to a 300 billion Euro industry that is growing fast.  We are announcing today our second investment of 2 million Euro in Leafspace, a Como based startup that provides a ‘ground segment as a service’ solution for satellite operators and space service providers, we are looking for new investments across Europe.”

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.

Background Information:

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.

The European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) is the main pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe. It provides first loss guarantees enabling the EIB Group to invest in riskier projects. The projects and agreements approved for financing under EFSI have so far mobilised €535.4 billion in investment.

InnovFin – EU Finance for Innovators – Under Horizon 2020, the EU research and innovation programme for 2014-2020, the European Commission and the European Investment Bank Group (EIB and EIF) launched a new generation of financial instruments and advisory services in 2014 to help innovative firms access finance more easily. Until 2020, “InnovFin – EU Finance for Innovators” is offering a range of tailored products which provides financing in support of research and innovation by small, medium-sized and large companies and the promoters of research infrastructure.