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Space
Europe invests €200 million for Ariane 6 and space SMEs
Europe invests €200 million for Ariane 6 and space SMEs
© ESA

| Alexandre Rocchi

Europe invests €200 million for Ariane 6 and space SMEs

The European Commission and the European Investment Bank Group provide €200 million for the Ariane 6 program and SMEs in the space sector.

During the European Space Policy Conference which is currently taking place in Brussels, the European Commission has just announced a partnership with the European Investment Bank Group (EIB) to invest €200 million in the European Union space sector to support “ground-breaking innovation in the industry”. EIB Vice-President Ambroise Fayolle is signing an agreement with André-Hubert Roussel, CEO of ArianeGroup, confirming a €100 million loan for the new Ariane 6 launcher program. The deal is backed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments, the financial pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe, and InnovFin Risk Sharing for Corporate Research backed by Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Program for Research and Innovation. In addition, the European Commission and the EIF are jointly announcing the first ever EU-backed InnovFin Space Equity Pilot and the first space focused tech fund supported under the pilot in Europe. The €100 million financing will partially support ArianeGroup’s share of development costs through an innovative financing structure which will be contingent on Ariane 6’s commercial success, once operational.

The InnovFin Space Equity Pilot is a €100 million program under InnovFin specifically dedicated to support the innovation and growth of European SMEs operating in the sector of space technologies. The program will invest in venture capital funds across the EU which support companies commercializing new products and services in the space sector. Primo Space, an Italian early-stage tech investor, is the first fund selected by the EIF under this pilot. With a target size of €80 million, it will be amongst the first tech transfer funds only focused on space related technologies in Europe and the first one in Italy.  It will invest at proof-of-concept, seed and other early stages projects or companies and will foster the commercialisation of breakthrough innovations in the space technologies in Italy and Europe.

EU Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton, said: “The two announcements of today represent a game changer for Europe in the support of the European space industry. First, I strongly welcome the loan granted by the EIB for the Ariane 6 project, which is at the core of the objective to guarantee a European autonomous access to space. Second, with the InnovFin Space, we are sending a clear signal that space business in Europe is an attractive opportunity. This is a crucial initiative to support the development of European space start-ups so they can scale up.”

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