The European Commission is partnering with the European Investment Bank Group, announcing €200 million of investments into the EU space sector, supporting ground-breaking innovation in the industry.
During the European Space Policy Conference in Brussels, EIB Vice-President Ambroise Fayolle is signing an agreement with André-Hubert Roussel, CEO of ArianeGroup, confirming a €100 million loan for the new Ariane 6 launcher programme.
The deal is backed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments, the financial pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe, and InnovFin Risk Sharing for Corporate Research backed by Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. In addition, the Commission and the EIB are jointly announcing the first ever EU-backed InnovFin Space Equity Pilot and the first space focused tech fund supported under the pilot in Europe.
Ariane 6 is the new European heavy launcher developed in the framework of a large European Space Agency (ESA) multi-annual programme for a new European family of space launchers to respond to the latest trends in the satellite market while significantly lowering production costs. The new generation heavy-launcher maintains the EU's independent access to space, aligned with the ambition to develop crucial knowledge for the European space industry. Ariane 6 will continue to enable Europe to deliver its launch activities for missions to all orbits, from geostationary satellites to medium and low Earth orbit missions and address market dynamics for large satellites, satellite constellations and the smaller satellite segment. The €100 million financing will partially support ArianeGroup's share of development costs through an innovative financing structure which will be contingent on Ariane 6's commercial success, once operational.
SMEs in the space sector
The InnovFin Space Equity 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 will invest in venture capital funds across the EU which support companies commercialising new products and services in the space sector.
Primo Space, an Italian early-stage tech investor, is the first fund selected by the EIF under this pilot. With a target size of €80 million, it will be amongst the first tech transfer funds only focused on space related technologies in Europe and the first one in Italy. It will invest at proof-of-concept, seed and other early stages projects or companies and will foster the commercialisation of breakthrough innovations in the space technologies in Italy and Europe.
The European space economy is already valued €50 billion (as of 2019) and the research in aerospace technologies is one of the priority areas covered by the Industrial Leadership and Societal Challenges of Horizon 2020.
The announcements follow recent new ventures for the EIB Group with key players in the space sector. Last year, the EIB and the European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency (GSA) signed an agreement to cooperate on supporting investment in the European space-based service economy. The common objective was to create high-skill jobs in the EU and improve the day-to-day lives of Europeans by supporting innovative companies and accelerating the development of new applications that use European global navigation satellite systems and earth observation data.
According to a recent EIB and European Commission study on the future of the European space sector, European space entrepreneurs feel there is a lack of private financing sources. They therefore tend to turn to private capital outside the EU, especially in the US.
A new EU space programme to start in 2021 foresees dedicated measures and additional funding to support an innovative and competitive EU space sector, including to boost entrepreneurship from early stage to scaling-up. The EU space programme regulation is currently under negotiation by the European Parliament and Council of the EU.
Source: European Commission Press Release (http://bit.ly/2v8Vusc)