Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Venture Capital for Space Focused Firms

Elon Musk in front of the Falcon 9 in March 2010
As recently as my June 19th, 2010 post "Venture Capital and New Space Investments" people like Investors.com author Brian Deagon could be authoritatively quoted as stating that the venture capitalists who provided seed funding for so many other industries have so far stayed away from commercial space activities.

But even then, this wasn't totally accurate.

The June 19th article references two small venture capitol investments in Space-X (from Founders Fund and Draper Fisher Jurvetson) and X-Cor Aerospace (from Boston Harbor Angels) and suggested they were the beginning of a trend.

2007 X-Cor liquid methane rocket engine test.
Several other VC investments have surfaced since then (for example, private equity firm Nevis Capital and others have invested in Glasgow based micro-sat company Clyde Space according to the January 31st, 2011 Rocketeers UK article "Clyde Space secures £1M funding" and an "unnamed Canadian teachers pension" even invested in the failed Space-X competitor Rocketplane Ltd. as outlined in my December 14th, 2010 post "Canadian Teachers Funding American Rockets.").

These deals are more than just the signing of letters of agreement such as was announced in the December 20th, 2010 National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) press release titled "NASA Selects Companies for Future Lunar Demonstration Data" which lists three companies receiving delivery orders under the Innovative Lunar Demonstrations Data (ILDD) project to develop vehicle capabilities and demonstrate end-to-end robotic lunar landing missions.

Sample Clyde Space cubesat.
None of the ILDD participating companies will receive any money until they land on the Moon, collect and then transmit the required data back to Earth.

But venture financing provides money up front and needs criteria for assessing the capabilities and competence of the start-ups in advance.

Fortunately, some of the theoretical underpinning for this emerging industry are being slowly worked out in a variety of online locations such as The Space Show with Dr. David Livingston (one of the acknowledged experts on the commercial and business aspects of space) and the Space Cynics Blog (which recently began collecting information on advances in terrestrial solar power).

But lately, the best assessments of the commercial validity of some of the more  exotic space focused business plans have been coming from the Space Business Blog.

Focused on "business thinking about the space frontier, spreadsheets, marketing and making money" the blog has run a variety of useful interviews and assessments of proposed space focused business plans including:
All in all, the blog is fascinating reading, providing insight into business opportunities we are just starting to become aware of.  We need more of these public assessments of space business concepts in order to begin laying the groundwork for future investors.

As mentioned at the start of this piece, they are the beginning of a trend.

1 comment:

  1. I have spent a lot of the time in different blogs but this is really a unique blog for me.shailendra singh sequoia


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