Europe is Making Space-Related Milestone through Start-Ups in Scotland and Switzerland

13th Aug 2020
Scotland in Space

Several start-ups are emerging as having had a successful year in 2019 according to an ESPI report. These start-ups have led other European companies to raise private capital for improved sustainability. All this was according to the European Space Policy Institute (ESPI).

Five start-ups in Europe have accumulated 188 million euros in 2019 alone. These companies are Isar Aerospace, Isotripoc, a Scottish space company, Spire Global, and Swissto12. The UK received about 60 million euros; in second place came Switzerland which had reached 40 million euros. Germany came in third place with six start-up space companies that accumulated 32 million euros. In fourth place was France, which had four companies that raised 24 million euros in total.

The ESPI found that investments in the continent seemed to plateau at the 200 million euro spot yearly. This analysis is based on a six-year data collection. The whole study of investment has begun in 2017, but the data collected went back to 2014.

In 2018, there was a record-breaking amount that surpassed the 200 million euro mark. It was 220 million euros. That same year, the global Space Industry also made tremendous investments that hit $3.23 billion. Even 2017 had a similar success story. From the previous years 2014 to 2016, the average stood at 43.3 million euros per year. All these figures are nothing but an estimate since this data was calculated while 12 out of 56 deals remained disclosed. These findings were mostly based on what is open and public.

Another finding the ESPI uncovered is that most of the investors were local. For instance, a Space company in Scotland is funded by Scottish investors. The extra paperwork that comes from finding foreign investors is rather cumbersome.

 Jules Varma, a researcher from ESPI, said that the UK seemed to benefit from a policy framework that supports space start-ups. This policy has been used since the beginning of the Millennium. 

She did also disclose that Swiss start-ups did not have a clear-cut basis for its success. The ESPI director, Jean-Jacques Tortora, mentioned that it came as a surprise Switzerland rising in 2019, though they had no explanation.

The director emphasized that they do not make predictions about future investments, but they believe in a reasonably expected increase in 2020. They use the developments as per 2019 as a forecast.

At the start of 2020, the European Union committed 100 million euros as capital for space start-ups. The French start-up Kinéis raised an additional 100 million euros as an investment to a 25-satellite internet-of-things constellation. These funds are to be utilized by numerous nations in Europe, including a Scottish and Swiss space company start-ups.

A Scottish space company, Spire Global and Swiss Space hardware company Swissto12 were tied as the most significant investment deal with an accumulative 33.2 million euros. Spire split that amount right down the middle with Swissto12.  Isar Aerospace from Germany was third, British Isotropic followed with 12.2 million euros, and Mynaric, yet another German company came fifth with 11 million euros.

What Do These Companies Do?

Spire Global, is a space-to-cloud data and analytics firm. This Space company in Scotland uses Lemurs, a small fleet of Cubesats, to measure GPS signals that are deflected by the Earth’s atmosphere.

Swissto12 is a business that supplies metal-coated 3D printed parts for mm-wave signal transmissions, such as complex antennas structures. Isar Aerospace from Germany is in the business of providing flexible satellite constellations and provides cost-effective access to space.

The Isotropic British Company provides satellite internet service and network management solutions, and lastly, Mynaric is a laser-communication corporation. The Scottish space company plus all the mentioned are vital for the overall success of European Space ambitions.

The number of start-ups featured in the survey was 73 in total. From that number, about half had between six to fifty staff members, and a majority of them started on personally generated funds. Besides personal funding, a Scottish space company and the rest also received grants, prizes, private equity, and debt financing to start.

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