The European Commission, European Investment Bank and European Space Agency have signed a collaboration agreement with a view to strengthening the continent’s space sector.
Announcing the move, the European Investment Bank (EIB) said the collaboration between the three institutions aimed to foster cooperation and coordination with a focus on providing financing and advisory support for European space companies. Through this collaboration, the institutions seek to improve access to finance, encourage innovation and knowledge-sharing and stimulate the development of cutting-edge space technologies.
“Access to finance is crucial for companies, whatever their stage of development,” said director-general of DG-DEFIS at the European Commission Timo Pesonen. “With our CASSINI Space Entrepreneurship initiative, the Commission already provides a big boost to our New Space ecosystem by facilitating access to finance to space start-ups, scale-ups and SMEs.
“Yet, access to debt funding remains challenging. Today we are joining forces with the EIB and ESA to try to fix the issue. Europe is now the hub for space entrepreneurship. We need to preserve this and continue supporting our industrial ecosystem to grow, innovate and capture new markets globally.”
For its part, the EIB hoped the collaboration would play “a pivotal role in identifying bottlenecks and streamlining access to finance and advisory services, to ensure that European space companies will have the necessary resources to bring their ideas to fruition”. According to Space News, the EIB currently invests in this area through the Strategic European Security Initiative (SESI), a five-year €8bn fund launched in 2022.
This initiative comes a few weeks after the European Commission and the European Investment Fund said they were joining forces to boost investment in defence innovation. Under the terms of that deal, the EIF will provide €175m of equity to venture capital and private equity funds investing in European companies developing innovative technologies with dual-use potential.
According to SESI, it was initially set up to finance up to €6bn for eligible dual-use research, development and innovation projects, civilian security infrastructure and cutting-edge technology projects. June last year, however, saw the EIB’s board of directors decide to increase its financing for security and defence up to €8bn due to the new geopolitical environment and rising financing needs in the sector.