Technology

Bpifrance, CNES and Karista manage a fund of 38 million euros for space start-ups

A fund for the start-up of a “news space”. Karista, an independent Venture Capital company, announced on Tuesday, October 19, 2021, the first closing of the CosmiCapital fund for an amount of 38 million euros. In action: Bpifrance, CNES and private investors. The aim is to grow the French ecosystem in the space sector. Ecosystem that has built on their achievements and seems to have lagged behind, especially vis-à-vis the Americans.

Exploitation of spatial data
CosmiCapital seeks to acquire 15 to 18 stakes in European start-ups, with a particular focus on France. “CosmiCapital can invest up to 1/3 of the fund abroad”, specifies Nicolas Dufourcq, CEO of Bpifrance. The amount of the inflows will range between 1 and 6 million euros, which means capital investments during the fundraising in Seed or Series A. The fund has 5 years to invest and intends to take three shares per year, two of which ‘by the end of 2021.

Particular emphasis is placed on digital startups looking to retrieve data from satellites to create applications for various industries (precision agriculture, border surveillance, etc.). “Almost 75% of the total amount of the fund is dedicated to these start-ups,” says Olivier Dubuisson, Chairman of Karista. The other part of the fund is dedicated to deep technology technologies that aim to reduce the size and cost of launchers or improve space logistics. These are projects with a more industrial and higher cost objective.

A (late) revival of interest in space
One of the strengths of the project is the relationship with the CNES which issued a call for expressions of interest in … 2017. However, Karista found it difficult to find private investors to participate in her fund, hence this delay before the effective creation of CosmiCapital that expects an insurer to quickly join the fund. In detail: Bpifrance has injected 15 million euros, and plans to add an additional 5 million euros when the insurer has confirmed its participation to have 49% of the fund’s capital. The CNES, for its part, injected 12 million euros. Karista hopes to reach € 70 million by the end of 2022.

“The space market will go from 350 billion dollars to 1000 or 2000 billion dollars, according to studies, in the next 20 years”, proclaims Olivier Dubuisson. The appeal for this sector is growing as it takes the lead with the constellations of nanosatellites, reusable launchers and the start of space tourism. Philippe Baptiste, CEO of CNES, confirms this enthusiasm. He speaks of “an attraction of the spatial subject for a few months” and assures that “the subject changes a bit of dimension”.

Towards the multiplication of funds in space?
The entry barrier for the space sector has also been lowered, either through miniaturization or through data, almost free, from which it is possible to create services. A drop in the entry ticket that facilitates the arrival of new people in this field and scares investors less.

“The ecosystem begins to swarm [en France, Ndlr]”says Nicolas Dufourcq and around forty start-ups in this field are listed. Bpifrance is already in the capital of 6 French Tech start-ups, including Exotrail and Kineis. The public investment bank wants several investment funds to emerge in this area, with the aim that France does not lose its place among the leaders in this area of ​​growing interest.

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