A sobering realistic look at the many challenges in the European small satellite industry.
ACCESS.SPACE Alliance (ASA), which represents the small satellite sector, has published a position paper on the current state of space financing in Europe. In the paper, ASA states that start-ups and SMEs often lack customers and contracts to support their business and face difficulties in finding public support and participating in large or long-term space programs at European and national levels. It also remains difficult for space business, especially for start-ups and SMEs which often do not have dedicated resources, to navigate through even the available funding opportunities.
Comparing the financing situation with other parts of the world, ASA points out that the number of space-related companies and the amounts of public and private investments are often higher than in Europe. ASA does acknowledge that very few countries have developed comprehensive directories of space-related entities, and that there is limited visibility in terms of the number of companies, employment, investments, growth and ownership and control.
Betty Bonnardel, founder and board member of ASA, said, “It is necessary to properly finance the space ecosystem and agree on concrete actions to support space-related start-ups. This is why ACCESS.SPACE proposes a number of policy actions to tackle these issues with a sense of urgency”.
One of the recommendations that ASA makes is the adoption of an innovation strategy for New Space in Europe, encompassing access to private and public capital and continue providing all needed support for start-ups and SMEs. ASA also suggests to increase the number of funding entities (venture capital firms, private equity firms and business angels), bridge the “valley of death” and focus on the areas where Europe can lead.
To improve access to funding, ASA also recommends the creation of an official ‘one-stop-shop’ web site granting access to all European public funding programs with digital tools to facilitate access and provide guidance.