€1bn NATO Innovation Fund Invests In Welsh In-space Manufacturing Startup Space Forge

21st Jun 2024
€1bn NATO Innovation Fund Invests In Welsh In-space Manufacturing Startup Space Forge

Earlier this week, the NATO Allies Consortium officially announced the first tranche of investment under the €1bn Innovation Fund. The fund aims to advance deep technologies in new materials and manufacturing, artificial intelligence, and robotics. Three of the four companies that have received funding are British, including Space Forge.

The Big Investment In Defense Technology

On Tuesday, the NATO Innovation Fund (NIF) confirmed it had directly invested in four European tech companies, which it said would help address the challenges in defence, security, and resilience.

As Andrea Traversone, the fund’s managing partner, said, “Enabling access to strategic technologies is key to securing a safe and prosperous future for the alliance’s one billion citizens.”

From Garage Startup To Space Orbit Through Ambition

On the list of emerging deep tech startups that have received investment is Space Forge.

“The NATO Innovation Fund’s support for Space Forge’s ambition is a testament to what we’re building. This investment enables Space Forge to develop the production class version of its ForgeStar architecture and provide a critical advantage in key technologies with its advanced semiconductor materials. It is a privilege to serve the NATO Alliance”, said Joshua Western, CEO & Co-Founder of Space Forge.

Space Forge Company

Space Forge is a Welsh company that utilizes the space environment, such as microgravity and vacuum conditions, to manufacture in-orbit advanced semiconductor materials for critical infrastructure.

Its focus is to develop reusable on-orbit fabrication capabilities to enable the novel production of semiconductors and alloys in microgravity. Space Forge raised $10.2 million in 2021 for ForgeStar, a reusable satellite designed for on-orbit manufacturing and precision return of payloads to Earth.

Who Else Has Received Financial Support?

The other three startups were:

– British manufacturer iCOMAT, an advanced composite manufacturing company that delivers lighter, stronger, and more sustainable structures for aerospace and automotive vehicles faster and more cost-effectively

Fractile, a London-based AI company – a computer chipmaker aiming to make large language models (LLMs) like those that power ChatGPT run faster, more efficiently, and sustainably.

– Germany’s ARX Robotics, designer and manufacturer of scalable robotic systems for mass deployment in defense, commercial, and humanitarian applications to future-proof armed forces and increase the safety and efficiency of workforces.

Investments To Power The Deeptech Startup Ecosystem

The fund also invests in the development of deep tech hubs in regions where capital for early-stage startups is in high demand to advance the technological sovereignty of the North Atlantic Alliance. Alpine Space Ventures, OTB Ventures, Join Capital, and Vsquared Ventures are backed to support early-stage innovators to boost growth, strengthening the defence, security, and resilience of the nations for generations to come.

Background Of The Fund

The Alliance announced the fund in the summer of 2022, months after Russia invaded Ukraine, pledging to invest in technologies that will strengthen its defences. The fund is supported by 24 of NATO’s 32 member states, including Finland and Sweden, which joined the Alliance earlier this year, and finances innovators across a wide range of emerging technology sectors, including energy, quantum computing, artificial intelligence, autonomy, novel materials, space, biotechnology, hypersonic systems, and next-generation communications.

The main mission of the NIF is to advance defense, security, and resilience and promote the development of dual-use ecosystems across the NATO Alliance.

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