UK space fund lifts off with British Business Bank backing

Seraphim Capital has secured a $37m commitment from the state-owned development bank on its way to a $99m final close for the world’s first space tech-focused VC fund.

UK-based investment firm Seraphim Capital has launched the world’s first space technology-focused venture capital fund with a £50m ($62m) round featuring state-owned development bank British Business Bank (BBB).

Aerospace company Airbus has also participated in the first close for Seraphim Space Fund, for which BBB contributed £30m, the Financial Times reported.

BBB and unnamed corporates have pledged another £30m for the second financing round, which is expected to close in April 2017, bringing the fund’s targeted size to £80m. Its first investments will be made early next year, according to the FT. 

Seraphim Space Fund is the brainchild of David Williams, chief executive of satellite operator Avanti Communications and chairman of the fund’s advisory board.

Williams saw a need for a VC fund to nurture space tech companies to meet the UK government’s target, set out in the National Space Policy, to triple the size of the sector to £40bn by 2030. 

The fund will focus on early-stage companies using digital data from satellites to develop innovations across a wide range of sectors, including intelligent transport, smart cities, insurance, maritime, agriculture and oil and gas.

Intergovernmental organisation European Space Agency (ESA) has partnered the fund and will provide access to satellites as well as to potential portfolio companies through networks such as ESA’s 16 pan-European business incubators.

Michael Jones, founder of virtual map platform Google Earth and a managing partner at Seraphim, will help extend the firm’s reach to Silicon Valley.

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