Conor O'Sullivan our Investment Manager covers the Fund’s dealflow in 2017 and its SpaceTech market segmentation.8th February 2018
As a specialist venture fund investing in the Space sector, we have a panoptic view of the latest developments, trends and future direction of the SpaceTech ecosystem. In 2017 we received c.1,500 investment opportunities - a higher number than we first thought when we launched the Fund in November 2016. We track a number of different metrics on every relevant opportunity that we see, including segmenting each business into our SpaceTech market segments (see image below) – the value chain of enabling technologies that help us observe, communicate and navigate the Earth from above – from building satellite and drone hardware through to selling insightful analysis and products to enterprise customers in various markets.
Image: Seraphim SpaceTech Market Segmentation
We have seen innovation happening globally, across the entire value chain from Build through to Product, and significant investments being made in each of these segments during 2017. Analysis on the latest update of Seraphim’s Space Index - the global transactions barometer for the SpaceTech venture market – will be provided in a future release by our Head of Research, Josephine Millward, so stay tuned for that.
2017 was the year of commercial launch companies making progress towards greater and more affordable access to space – a critical enabler for the entire NewSpace market. Without timely and responsive launch options, many of the constellations of small satellites that are planned will continue to be delayed whilst they wait for a ride to space. We are encouraged to see the likes of Rocket Lab successfully getting their rocket into orbit and delivering small satellites for two of the leading NewSpace companies, Spire Global and Planet.
Our first two investments were made in the ‘Collect’ segment - into Spire Global (small satellite constellation vastly improving global weather datasets, also tracking ships and aircraft) and Iceye (constellation of miniaturised radar satellites monitoring the entire earth at all times and in all conditions). We believe these businesses can build a distinct advantage from the proprietary datasets they gather and the analytical insights they generate for enterprise and Government customers.
We look forward to continuing to find the best-of-breed start-ups, across all segments, that can demonstrate to us their potential to win out in an increasingly competitive market. Start-ups that bring deep domain expertise, develop proprietary datasets and analytics, and focus on setting up the business to scale to a range of verticals over time (and hire the best people!), have an opportunity to build a robust and defensible position amongst the competition. We see plenty of businesses that have one or two of these elements, but crucially the businesses we have invested in to date, we believe, have the ability and opportunity to exploit all of these elements.
Our team is really excited at the prospect of meeting more of the world’s best founders in 2018 that are changing the way we observe, communicate with and navigate our Earth.