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#SpaceWatchGL Venture Space – April 2024

by Connor Sattely

SpaceWatch.Global is on a mission: to share with you every single space-tech deal globally, every month. We transparently show who’s included, and who’s not included in our list and explain why.

Image credit of Nikoleta Mougkasi

April was another banner month in VC investment, with $472m total invested across 26 deals. Across four months, the global spacetech VC ecosystem now nears $3b, indicating 2024 could be one of the strongest years in history for investment in the sector.

European spacetech founders received over half of global spacetech VC in April. Finland’s ICEYE ($93m), Spain’s PLD Space (€78m) combined for almost a third of all VC in space-tech this month, while Bulgarian founder Delian Asparouhov and his US-based Varda Space raised another $90m.

Notable as well is the $20m investment into Kenyan satellite-enabled agriculture insurance provider Pula. Pula is only the third African space-tech company – and the first outside of South Africa – to receive VC investment so far this year, joining Simera Sense ($14.6m in March) and CubeSpace ACDS ($2.4m in February). 

Deal of the Month

One year ago, in The Space Economy, Space Capital Managing Partner Chad Anderson noted that emerging economies in the space industry account for less than one percent of total value in the sector.

Varda Space, SpaceWatch’s deal of the month, looks primed to bolster that one percent.

Their press release (via WSJ) announcing their investment is unusually blunt and simple for such a complex technology: “Varda Gets $90 Million to Launch Factories Into Space.”

The investment follows a banner year for Varda: in February, their W-1 capsule successfully and autonomously processed the HIV medication ritonavir, achieving crystalization and sending it back safely to Earth. In one of the best one-liners ever uttered by a spacetech founder, Delian Asparouhov announced on X: “them space drugs cooked real good.”

By producing pharmaceuticals in microgravity, Varda Space hopes to “pave the way for the future of in-space processing of medicines that enable the development of novel drug products on Earth and benefit long-duration human exploration initiatives”, according to the preprint paper studying the stability of the drug.

Their investors seem more than happy to join along that ride.

“In the world of deeply ambitious startups, you almost never see anyone say, ‘Here’s my plan, I’m going to go get it done,’ and it actually happens” said Raymond Tonsing, Founder and Managing Partner at Caffeinated Capital. “Varda is one of the few that gets it done, which is why we are thrilled to continue supporting them.”

All deals in March 2024, by $ (descending)

  • ICEYE (Finland) – synthetic aperture radar satellite ops for EO – raised $93m.
  • Varda Space (US) – in-orbit pharmaceutical processing – raised $90m.
  • PLD Space (Spain) – launch services – raised €78m.
  • Arbol (USA) – climate risk coverage platform – raised $60m.
  • OROS (USA) – aerogel insulation materials – raised $22mm.
  • Orbex Space (UK) – low-cost orbital launch services. – raised £16.7m.
  • Pula (Kenya) – agricultural insurance in Africa, Asia, and LATAM – raised $20m.
  • Dhruva Space (India) – small satellite systems and services – raised INR123 Crore.
  • Weenat (France) – agricultural soil water management – raised €8.5m.
  • AiDash (USA) – AI and satellite imagery for utility maintenance – raised $8.5m.
  • CAS Space (China) – space launch provider – raised CNY60mm.
  • Blackleaf (France) – eco-friendly graphene production – raised €7m.
  • ForceN (Canada) – robotics sensing technologies – raised $CAD8.35m.
  • Dark (France) – space detection and orbital propulsion – raised $6m.
  • Aistech Space (Spain) – high-res thermal imagery of the Earth – raised €5m.
  • Vyoma (Germany) – space-based constellation monitoring objects – raised €5m.
  • Bright Ascension (UK) – space software services and consulting – raised £2.25m.
  • Blue Skies Space (UK) – scientific data through LEO satellite fleet – raised £2m.
  • Lithium Lasers (Italy) – laser-based industrial micromachining – raised €2m.
  • 10Lines (Estonia) – automated parking lot painting robots – raised €1.5m.
  • Helicity Space (USA) – fusion propulsion systems – raised $1m.
  • Black Swan (Lithuania) – software for controlling space assets – raised €0.76m.

Raised an undisclosed amount:

  • SatSure (India) – satellite EO data and analytics.
  • Skygate Technologies (Japan) – ground station as a service, security services.
  • Sedaro (USA) – digital simulation and modelling tools.
  • Swegan (Sweden) – semiconductor manufacturing (epiwafers).

Estimating the size of the Spacetech industry

SpaceWatch.Global estimates that so far in 2024, exactly 100 space-tech companies have raised a total of approx. $2.9b of venture equity funding.

  • January: 27 deals, $533m
  • February: 35 deals, $1.793b
  • March: 12 deals, $93.96m
  • April: 26 deals, $472m

The fine print

We’ve dug into each of these deals. What will they use the funding for? Who are the funders? If you’re an investment wonk and want this information, get in touch: [email protected].

Did we miss your investment? If so, compose an angry e-mail to [email protected] and we’ll fix the mistake.

SpaceWatch.Global includes deals that:

  1. Are space-tech investments made in this month only;
  2. involve equity-based venture funding.

One great source of space-tech funding information is the Dealroom/ESA Space Tech Dashboard. As a way of triangulating whether SpaceWatch.Global is accurate relative to industry estimates, each month we compare our list to theirs. 

This month, Dealroom’s lists 21 space-tech VC deals worth $454m, and seven other deals that are not in the correct month (3), not venture capital (1), or not space-tech (3).

In comparison, SpaceWatch lists 26 space-tech VC deals done in April worth $472m. The deals missed by Dealroom, as of publication, are Helicity Space (USA), Vyoma (Germany), Lithium Lasers (Italy), Blue Skies Space (UK), and Forcen (Canada).

Dealroom estimates that as of the end of April 2024, 124 space-tech companies have raised a total of approx. $1.46b.

Spacewatch.Global estimates that 100 space-tech companies have raised a total of approx. $2.9b.

Connor Sattely – Courtesy of the author

Connor Sattely is an entrepreneur and startup advisor working in startup ecosystems all over the world since 2012. His monthly column for SpaceWatch.Global covers the world of venture capital in spacetech. Based in Amsterdam, he’s passionate about supporting startup founders as they grow and build their dream companies. He has launched startups in Switzerland, Uganda, and the Netherlands, and has advised founders in more than 50 countries. You can sometimes find him around Amsterdam playing the tenor saxophone with one of his bands.

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