The European Investment Bank (EIB) is to make its first direct investment into the space sector, with €20m in funding for Spire Global, the world’s largest constellation of multi-purpose satellites.
Spire Global, based in Luxembourg, will use the money to develop its satellite network, which monitors maritime, aviation and weather space conditions.
The investment comes after the EIB, the lending institution of the European Union, made a commitment to strengthen support for European startups in the “new space” sector — those working outside of state programs.
With the rise of companies like SpaceX, more and more private investors have moved into the industry, which typically gives strong returns. Before the coronavirus pandemic, the global space economy was growing at twice the rate of the broader economy, with every €1 invested returning €6 back on average.
“Like many other sectors, space is undergoing disruptive changes driven by innovation and digitalisation,” said Teresa Czerwińska, vice president of the EIB.
“We shouldn’t miss the opportunity to play a decisive role in the emerging new space industry and reap the many benefits it can bring to the whole economy and Europe’s future competitiveness.”
Spire’s CEO, Peter Platzer, said funding from institutions like the EIB is critical to the startup’s development, and the funding will mean the technology can help solve problems like illegal fishing, excessive fuel consumption, aid early weather warnings and facilitate more efficient movement of global resources.
Europe in space
The European Union currently runs space programs Copernicus and Galileo, aimed at providing Europe with autonomous space capabilities.
The EIB has highlighted, however, that Europe lags behind the US and China in terms of the funding available for space tech startups, for which “grants are no longer adequate but companies are not mature enough to access private equity markets.”
Alongside financing, the EIB launched the Space Finance Lab in 2019, where space startups and financiers can connect and source funding.