EBAN, the European Trade Association for Business Angels, Seed Funds and Early Stage Market Players, and ESA, the European Space Agency, have announced to have entered into a wide-ranging agreement to help start-up entrepreneurs, active in space related activities professionalize their businesses and value propositions, all the while encouraging and inspiring private and public investors to see space related businesses as a most attractive investment opportunity and asset class.
The announcement was made during the opening ceremony of the Global Innovation Conference of the International Aeronautical Foundation taking place in Munich.
“ESA has played a pioneering role not only in leading European governments and corporations into space but also in inspiring, facilitating, encouraging, and funding entrepreneurs and start-ups to develop new space related businesses with their ground-breaking ESA Business Incubation Centres (BICs),” noted EBAN President Candace Johnson. “Europe’s space programmes in satellite navigation (Galileo), Earth observation (Copernicus), and satellite communications offer fantastic opportunities. We are excited to be working with ESA throughout the entire selection, mentoring, accompanying and investment process to turn these start-ups into scale-ups and a new asset class for Europe’s early-stage investors.”
The ESA BICs are initiated by ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme Office (TTPO) and work to inspire entrepreneurs to turn space-connected business ideas into commercial companies, while providing technical expertise and business-development support. The TTPO’s goal is to boost local economy by creating jobs, investing in start-ups and supporting sustainable innovation. TTPO is also responsible for the management of the patents portfolio and is tasked to market ESA’s own IP to the non-space industry in order to make sure they are exploited to their full potential.
The ESA BIC programme currently offers start-up entrepreneurs extensive financial and technical support at 20 locations in eight countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the UK. Additional ESA BIC locations are in the planning for Madrid, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Ireland, Austria and Norway. This programme supports more than 100 new start-ups on a yearly basis.
“We are looking forward to helping our ESA BIC entrepreneurs go to the next level in their professionalization and investment through our partnership with EBAN,” said Frank Salzgeber , Head of ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme Office and responsible for the coordination of the ESA BIC programme, and the regional partners. “For the last 15 years EBAN has been developing Angel and Early-Stage investing to be an asset class through its promotion, professionalization, investor-readiness and investor accreditation programs. Our start-ups will benefit from their accumulated experience, expertise, networks and yes, financial investment to become Global Success Stories made in Europe.”
The partnership, which starts immediately, will link the ESA BICs to EBAN members throughout all of Europe and will involve regular selection, pitching, and mentoring activities leading up to investment. ESA BICs entrepreneurs will also participate in EBAN regular events such as their EBAN Annual Congress and Winter University as well as specific events aimed at making ESA BICs start-ups more investor ready and EBAN’s early-stage investment community more “space and space-tech” savvy.
“We believe this is a win-win-win partnership for Europe’s Space and Entrepreneur Eco-System”, declared Johnson and Salzgeber. “Europe’s destiny for the 21st century is in space and we will be working together to make it happen.”
EBAN is the pan-European representative for the early stage investor community, gathering over 150 member organizations from 51 countries, including federations of business angel networks, angel networks, early stage venture capital funds, corporate venture funds, accelerators, and stock-exchanges. Through direct and indirect membership, EBAN reaches out to 300 groups and organizations, 20,000 angels and 40,000 entrepreneurs.
EBAN was established in 1999 by a group of pioneer angel networks in Europe with the collaboration of the European Commission and EURADA. EBAN statistics show that Business Angels alone invested more than 5.5 Billion Euros in early stage investments throughout Europe in 2014. Recently EBAN has helped incubate MBAN, the MENA Business Angel Network and ABAN, the African Business Angel Network. EBAN works with these partners and other members of the Crowd-Funding, Incubation, Accelerator, and Venture Capital sectors as well as the public sector to create Global Success Stories made in Europe, the MENA Region and Africa.