Investors Increasingly Looking to Space Startups

Artists illustration of Vector rocket fairing separation exposing payload before deployment. Credit: Vector Launch Inc.

Space Angels, a leading proponent and investor in space startups, has released its 2018 fourth quarter report which indicates that US$2.97B in equity capital was invested in space companies globally in 2018.

In total, the report states that US$18.0B has been invested into 412 space companies since 2009.

The report also states that the “U.S. continues to lead global investment in Space, accounting for 57% (US$9.6B) since 2009. However, Q4 saw increased international participation with significant investments in Chinese, German, Singaporean, and Canadian companies. Importantly, China now accounts for 5% of total global investment since 2009, illustrating that private companies will play an important role in China’s strategic space initiatives. In 2018 alone, US$336M was invested in Chinese space companies, up 57% Y/Y. China also surpassed the U.S. in number of launches last year, for the first time in history.”

Canadian companies made it into the discussion, as four announced financing deals valued at C$89M including NorthStar C$52M, Kepler Communications US$16M, GHGSat $US10M, and SkyWatch C$4M.

In total, 114 new Venture Capital (VC) funds invested in space in 2018 which Space Angels says brings the total number of VC’s with investments in space companies to 534. VC’s “have primarily invested in Series A and B rounds, with a focus on Satellites and Launch.”

Full Year 2018 Equity Investments
Credit: Space Angels.

2018 – The year of small launch

Space Angels predicted that 2018 was going to be the Year of Small Launch. In fact, in 2018 the number of companies that joined the small launch sweepstakes rose to over 100 companies globally. Notably, two companies received significant funding, Rocket Lab US$140M and Vector Launch US$70M.

In Canada, the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) accelerator program at the University of Toronto started its first space stream cohort last summer. Heading into the third session later this month, some 18 companies remain in the program from the original 27, of which SpaceQ is aware of 3 that are small launch companies, 2 based in Canada, Loonify and Reaction Dynamics.

Another 4 Canadian companies also remain for the third CDL session. As part of its program, CDL would expect that several of the remaining 18 companies would attract some investment before the close of the first years space stream. With 1 in 3 of the remaining companies being Canadian, it’s quite possible that 2 or 3 could attract investment.

Other launch related companies receiving funding included Spaceflight Inc., the rideshare company which owns BlackSky, a company looking to launch a constellation of 60 satellites. They closed a Series C round of US$150M. SpaceX was also active and closed two rounds valued at US$773M.

According to Space Angels, 2019 will be the Year of Commercial Space Travel.

space angels 2009 to 2018 investment chart
Credit: Space Angels.

About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactive LLC. Boucher has 20+ years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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