Capital is today launching Space Camp Accelerator, the UK’s first dedicated accelerator programme for startups in the spacetech industry. Backed by both the UK and European space agencies, as well as by corporate partners including Rolls Royce, alongside Seraphim Space Fund partners including Airbus, Surrey Satellite Technology, SES, and Telespazio, Space Camp will help the best spacetech startups secure funding, achieve scale, and foster close working relationships with industry leaders.
As the cost of building and launching a satellite has fallen from more than $100 million to less than $1 million in recent years, low-cost access to space has become a reality for startups and made the spacetech sector increasingly attractive to venture capital investors. Seraphim Capital manages the £70 million Seraphim Space Fund, the world’s only venture capital fund specialising exclusively in spacetech investment. The London-based venture capital firm has built Space Camp Accelerator according to a VC mindset.
Mark Boggett, CEO at Seraphim Capital, said: “Space is a $350 billion industry that underpins many elements of our everyday lives. $2.5 billion was invested in spacetech startups by VCs globally in 2017, but those startups still need greater access to industry-specific advice and support. We’re turning the accelerator concept on its head: investability is a prerequisite for the startups we invite to be part of Space Camp Accelerator, not the endgame of their involvement as it might be for other programmes. We will connect startups to Seraphim Capital’s network of leading corporate investors and decision-makers, providing them with access to mentors, advisers, and partners to help them achieve tangible outcomes beyond funding – whether that’s working on a proof-of-concept or some other technology integration, or halving the time it takes them to get their technology into orbit.”
Just six startups will be selected to join the programme, with a focus on identifying the best data- and satellite-led businesses that are either addressing the biggest challenges facing corporates in the space industry or creating value for industries on earth, from transportation to agriculture to urban planning. The nine-week programme will run twice annually, with the first cohort beginning on 8 May 2018 and the second following in September.
Dentons, the global law firm, will host the programme at its offices in London, and will provide the cohort with facilities around the world as appropriate. Justin Hill, partner at Dentons, said: “We are very pleased to be involved with Space Camp. Our global TMT and Venture Technology groups are keen to find the most disruptive technology businesses and understand their needs and priorities. Dentons partners and associates will work closely with the accelerator programme to ensure the participating companies can springboard from our sector knowledge and global networks.”
Startups within Seraphim Capital’s Space Fund portfolio will contribute to the Space Camp programme alongside corporate partners, providing the cohort with mentoring on technical and commercial issues, grounded in their own experience of growing spacetech businesses. The corporates – including Space Camp Accelerator backers and partners of Space Fund – will provide access to facilities, resources, and services, and set proof-of-concept and integration challenges.
Caroline Gorski, director of global ecosystem and partnerships at Rolls Royce, said: “Collaboration with innovators across the ecosystem is crucial to unlocking the full value of the data we are creating and gathering every day, and to revealing new data. We are therefore committed to providing startups with the strategic engagement and support they need to make a genuine impact. Spacetech is an industry we have always watched with interest, as we apply insights from the sector to our work in other remote and challenging environments, and we are delighted to be involved with Space Camp Accelerator as it pushes startups in the sector to achieve their full potential.”
Rob Desborough, Portfolio Director at Seraphim Capital and Director for Space Camp Accelerator, said: “With the government recently identifying space as a strategically important industry, and backing that up with increased investment in the European Space Agency since the decision to leave the EU – and with US companies hamstrung by regulation that prevents global commercialisation of their innovation – the UK has an incredible opportunity to take the lead as spacetech becomes increasingly pivotal to the evolving digital economy. Space Camp will nurture the brightest and best startups, and create a lasting community and ecosystem built on knowledge-sharing and collaboration, to help drive that leadership.”
John Spindler, CEO at Capital Enterprise, a not-for-profit organisation that supports 15 accelerators across London and has assisted in the development of the Space Camp Accelerator programme, said: “The UK has long been fertile ground for innovative technologies. Elon Musk might be attracting the headlines at the moment with his SpaceX exploits, but – just as there are now billion-dollar companies that couldn’t exist without GPS location services – it’s clear that the next wave of meaningful disruption is going to come from satellite technologies and the intelligent use of data. We’re excited to be backing a new breed of accelerator programme in Space Camp, and look forward to helping the team identify and nurture startups with genuinely transformative potential.”