Seraphim Capital has launched what it says is the world’s largest ever, early-stage, space-sector, venture fund.
The fund – focussed on early stage space-related technology businesses – is targeting an GBP80 million final close during the next two quarters and is backed by a GBP30 million investment from the British Business Bank (made under its Enterprise Capital Funds (ECF) programme) alongside smart capital from leading international space companies, family offices and individual investors.
The Seraphim Space Fund will be the first fund of its size anywhere in the world to focus on investing in early-stage technology companies emerging from the ‘new space’ revolution.
The fund will invest in commercial applications in both downstream (software), and upstream (hardware) opportunities, as well as in technologies that have potential space applications such as artificial intelligence, robotics and nanomaterials.
In particular the fund will focus on companies that use digital data from satellites that is already delivering commercial advantage and social innovations ranging from intelligent transport and smart cities through to sectors such as insurance, maritime, agriculture or oil and gas.
Mark Boggett, Seraphim Capital’s CEO, says: “As satellites get smaller, smarter and less expensive to launch, our reliance on them is growing exponentially. 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.
“The average person in the UK interacts with a satellite 30 times per day. Within five years we see that figure reaching 300 and by the end of the decade 3,000. 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.
“There are exciting development opportunities emerging from very promising start-ups and we very much look forward to investing and supporting the best of these.”
The fund is well positioned to identify the most promising start-ups in these areas through its unique strategic partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA) providing it access to relevant space infrastructures, to companies with a portfolio of hundreds of downstream application projects as well as companies in ESA’s 16 pan-European business incubators.
Michael Jones, the founder of Google Earth, and Google’s former chief technology advocate who joined the Seraphim Space Fund as a managing partner, will ensure the fund’s reach into Silicon Valley.
In the UK, Seraphim Space will be supported by new initiatives led by the Satellite Applications Catapult and will be backing the creation of UK Space Tech Angels (a new venture from London Business Angels) that will put the Seraphim Space fund at the heart of the space-related start-up ecosystem.
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Greg Clark says: “The UK is a world-leader in science and research, and as we build our ambitious Industrial Strategy it is crucial that we build on our strengths, such as satellites.
“The plans set out in the National Space Policy will grow the value of the UK space sector to GBP40 billion by 2030. The launch of the Seraphim Space Fund today, backed by the British Business Bank, goes even further and will cement our place at the heart of the space and satellite technology and start-up revolution.”
Keith Morgan, British Business Bank’s CEO, says: “We are delighted to be backing the Seraphim team via our Enterprise Capital Funds programme. The UK space sector is already a major success story, representing a GBP12 billion industry that has ambitious targets to triple in size over the next 15 years.
“Providing the best space-related start-ups with the funding they need to grow into global players will be a vital component if these targets are to be met. Through its combination of industry heavy-hitters, leading space-tech entrepreneurs and partnerships with the likes of the European Space Agency, we believe that the Seraphim Space Fund will be ideally placed to help make this vision a reality.”