VC fund targets £83m space sector shake-up

Kasmira Jefford
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Firms including Airbus and Thales have already backed the Space Venture Fund
A VENTURE capital fund that aims to nurture start-ups disrupting the UK space industry will kick off a roadshow this week to close an £83m fundraising.

Seraphim Capital’s Space Venture Fund wants to speed up the commercialisation of space by investing in small to medium-sized businesses developing cheaper and more accessible technologies.

It will also target firms focused on artificial intelligence, robot and autonomous systems, and advanced materials such as nanotechnology.

Planemaker Airbus, space tech firm e2v and Thales, the French defence company, have already thrown their weight behind the fund after investing undisclosed sums.

Seraphim also agreed a tie-up with the European Space Agency (ESA) this summer to access promising start-ups through its 11 incubators across Europe.

The company declined to comment on how much it has raised so far.

“Reception to the fund has been strong – which you can see from the leading industry players that have come on board – and significant commitments have already been made,” one source close to the fundraising told City A.M.

The UK space sector generated £12bn in turnover last year – 6.5 per cent of the global market – and has grown at eight per cent per year since 2008, according to recent industry reports.

The government has set a goal to increase the UK’s share of the global space market to 10 per cent by 2030. However, according to Seraphim the business of space is still costly and developments are slow.

“Historically the space sector has developed all technology requirements in-house... This has led to lengthy development cycles, high costs and over-engineered solutions,” Seraphim said.

The fund will have a 10-year life and a portfolio of around 20 companies. It will make initial investments of up to £2m and participate in further rounds of up to £12m.