UK venture capital boutique launches space tech fund

London-based venture capital firm Seraphim Capital has launched the Seraphim Space Fund that focuses on early stage space-related tech businesses and targets an £80m (€92.7m) final close by Q2 2017.

Seraphim Capital is backed by a £30m investment from the British Business Bank alongside international space companies, family offices and individual investors. First close reached £50m (€58m).

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.

The strategy 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.

The Seraphim Space Fund has tied a strategic partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA) to identify the start-ups it will invest in.

This will provide the firm an 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.

Google Earth’s founder Michael Jones joined the Seraphim Space Fund as a managing partner and will help it reach into Silicon Valley.

Commenting on the Seraphim Space Fund, Mark Boggett, Seraphim Capital’s CEO said: “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 1990’s and the internet in the 2000’s 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.”

UK secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark, said: “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 £40bn 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, added: “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 £12bn 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.”

Adrien Paredes-Vanheule
Adrien Paredes-Vanheule is deputy editor and French-Speaking Europe Correspondent for InvestmentEurope, covering France, Belgium, Geneva and Monaco. Prior to joining InvestmentEurope, he spent almost five years writing for various publications in Monaco, primarily as a criminal and financial court reporter. Before that, he worked for newspapers and radio stations in France, in particular in Lyon.

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