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Investors Scout Space Spin-offs

May 31, 2010

Investors looking for promising opportunities in space spin-offs used ESA’s Investment Forum in Stuttgart, Germany, this month to meet 28 young entrepreneurial companies looking for financing to start their businesses.

Organized by ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme Office (TTPO) and managed by Europe Unlimited, this was the fourth Forum. Most of the companies were from the four ESA Business Incubation Centres in the Netherlands, Germany and Italy.

In parallel, the European Commission organized a workshop on satellite applications, underlining the role of the forum in bringing innovators, investors and industry together.

“In our incubation centers we help the entrepreneurs to get started,” said Frank M. Salzgeber, Head of TTPO.

“They come with great ideas and we provide them with office space, seed funding and contact with experts to mature their ideas and develop them into potential businesses.

“The next step is to find partners and investors who can support them with financing and target their business. At the forum they get the opportunity to present and discuss their business ideas and plans with venture capitalist and investors.”

Attracting investors
 
“There are a lot of technologies that were originally created for space applications that have profoundly changed the life of consumers, ranging from Earth observation to navigation,” added entrepreneur and investor Anton Arts, partner of New Venture Partners LLC.

“An example is the ambitious Google Earth, which has really changed the way that people think about their environment.

“As venture capitalists, we have a lot of experience in taking raw technology from the lab and adding a layer of commercial reality to those technologies, and moving them to actual businesses.”

Dr Bernd Geiger, of Triangle Venture Capital Group Management, noted: “The most important point is how entrepreneurs kick off their ideas, but it requires resources. You need to be ready to live for a year or more without getting any revenue.

“This is the proven truth of a young start-up company, and for that you need financing. That is the role of a venture capitalist, and to make sure that it takes only one year to acquire the first customer.”

Triangle also manages the recently launched Open Sky Technologies Fund, which ESA initiated and invests in. The fund has a target volume of &eur;100 million to support space-to-non-space spin-offs.

During the forum, 28 start-up companies discussed their business ideas with the venture capital professionals, opening up the dialogue on obtaining investments.

To date, ESA’s Business Incubation Centres have created 50 companies, with 90% still in business. Some have grown significantly and a quarter have been acquired by other companies.

The next ESA Investment Forum will take place in Milan, Italy on October 5, 2010.

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