Investing in space tech on Earth
- the Investment Forum 2008 -

ESA astronaut Christer Fuglesang
4 April 2008

It is a tough challenge to move from initial idea to actually developing a successful and viable start-up company. The ESA Space Incubator supports the creation of start-up companies whose business idea derives from space technologies companies up to an early state of their development.

This includes assistance in operation and business development, giving them access to ESA expertise and a full network of support sources including a small amount of initial funding.

The most difficult thing for those start-up companies is making the leap from fledgling firm to fully-fledged, financially viable company, which of course requires funding. This kind of early stage funding is essential to make the grade. That is why ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme Office organises the ESA Investment Forum 2008 at ESA’s Technology and Research Centre ESTEC in Noordwijk, the Netherlands the 15 April.

ESA Investment Forum to bring together start-ups and venture capitalists

Test of the Vulcain engine of the Ariane 5 launcher
Vulcain engine of Europe's Ariane 5 launcher

The ESA Investment Forum is a yearly event bringing together investors and start-up companies that employ space technology or services in a non-space related business concept.

According to Frank M. Salzgeber, Head of the Technology Transfer Programme Office at ESA, it is crucial to introduce to Venture Capitalists the sheer endless opportunities of space technology derived start-up companies – which up to now seems to be a well kept and potentially highly profitable secret.

"Space technology transfers touch virtually every aspect of our every-day life", says Salzgeber. "From intelligent textiles to car safety features, from medical applications innovations to novel engineering solutions, from gaming technology to high-tech environmental control systems – we are surrounded by technology that once originated in the space business and is now generating profits in businesses in multitude of market sectors." All the more surprising that spacetech-based fledgling companies went largely unnoticed by Investors for years.

But due to ESA’s efforts, things are changing, which is impressively documented by the results of ESA’s first Investment Forum last year. One of the start-up companies, iOpener, real-time gaming developer using space technology, received an investment of 4.1 Million Euro by Venture Capitalist Triangle: a match made during the IEF 2007.

To further boost the development of those newly founded enterprises, ESA is organizing the second consecutive Investment Forum this year, with plans to make it an annual jour fixe.

Investment Forum, ESTEC, 24 April 2007
Investment Forum 2007

"For ESA, the Investment Forum 2008 is yet another step of its space incubation programme," says Salzgeber. "We support start-up companies do feasibility studies and prototypes, and incubate their business to a certain maturity stage. The Investment Forum picks it up from there and assists the start-ups in becoming a successful business by providing the early stage funding necessary to grow into a self-standing, financially viable business."

One-of-a-kind opportunity for investors

The Investment Forum 2008 opens up exceptional prospects for Venture Capitalists. Space does not only spawn the world’s most innovative and most intricate technologies, but also the most thoroughly tested and thus safest. A lot of those technologies found their way back to Earth.

This represents a one-of-a-kind chance for forward-looking investors: These space technology spin-offs are a new and promising investment opportunity as it constitutes an almost endless source of potential for profitable future business in a time of total technology immersion into our daily routine and ever rising demands for new high-tech solutions in every field of life.

ESA Investment Forum 2007, ESTEC, 24 April 2007
ESA Investment Forum 2007 attracted more than 100 participants

To further explore these opportunities, ESA supports the London-based fund manager E-Synergy in setting up a 40 Million Euro fund dedicated to early investments in start-ups that use space-tech in non-space applications. This fund will further advance the commercialization of space technology and the strengthening of Europe’s innovative industrial power. The Investment Forum 2008 is organized jointly with the European Innova projects INVESaT (managed by EBN), FinanceSpace (managed by ESA) and the European Special Applications Fund (managed by E-Synergy).

The Forum is open to start-up companies that utilize space technologies or services for non-space applications. To apply, please go to http://www.congrex.nl/08c04/ to register. The 20 best companies will be selected to present their products.

ESA's Technology Transfer Programme Office (TTPO)

The main mission of the ESA TTPO is to facilitate the use of space technology and space systems for non-space applications and to further demonstrate the benefit of the European space programme to European citizens. The TTPO is responsible for defining the overall approach and strategy for the transfer of space technologies including the incubation of start-up companies. For more information, please contact:

Technology Transfer Programme
European Space Agency - ESTEC
Keplerlaan 1, P.O. BOX 299, 2200 AG, Noordwijk
The Netherlands
Office: +31 (0) 71 565 3910
Fax: +31 (0) 71 565 6635
Email: ttp @ esa.int

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