On Tuesday, April 12, Charles Beigbeder, founding CEO of the asset management company Audacia, and François Chopard, founding director of the accelerator specializing in aeronautics Starburst, announced the launch of Expansion, a new venture capital to fund French and European start-ups. in Aeronautics, Space and Defense (ASD), which was to reach 300 million euros in the long term.
Starburst, aeronautical, space and defense accelerator
Starburst was founded in 2012 by François Chopard and is a strategy and innovation consulting firm. This first global accelerator of aircraft and defense start-ups has offices in the major global innovation centers in the ASD sector (Los Angeles, Paris, Montreal, Munich, Madrid, Singapore, Abu Dhabi, Seoul and Mumbai). The team has built an ecosystem of key players in the aerospace and defense industry with more than 8,000 startups in their networks and public and private partners. Starburst works with large corporations such as Airbus, Boeing, NASA, CNES, Thales … and also investment funds.
In Europe, Starburst is led by co-founder Sandra Budimir and has more than 30 startups in its acceleration program, including about 20 in the BLAST program.
Audacia was founded in 2006 by Charles Beigbeder and is an independent management company that provides equity and debt support for entrepreneurial projects. It has invested more than € 750 million on behalf of private investors, family offices and institutions in 350 companies and has developed three investment companies:
- Development capital in fast-growing SMEs;
- Real Estate Capital, focusing on Coliving, modern colocation;
- Capital Innovation including the Quantonation Foundation, the first global foundation dedicated to quantum technologies, and the Geodesic Foundation, dedicated to NewSpace.
The Enlargement Fund
This fund initially plans to raise 100 million euros by the end of 2022 and aims to become the most important European private fund dedicated to the ASD sector in order to ” support and finance French and European start-ups ” from the seed phase to series B, which will give young companies the opportunity to gain momentum.
The fund aims to be the link between public funding, industrial activities and entrepreneurial projects, which according to the two companies are lacking in France and Europe.
The investments will focus on:
- micro-launchers and constellations of satellites;
- space data utilization and orbital services;
- low-carbon aviation;
- new urban and regional air mobility platforms;
- dual technologies with strategic defense applications;
- all the disruptive enabling technologies that nurture innovation in these sectors (new sensors, new materials, innovative equipment, artificial intelligence, etc.).
The management of Expansion will be handed over to Sandra Budimir, co-founder of Starburst, and Pierre-François Vilgrain, former director of ArianeGroup and Airbus Defense & Space.
Dirk Hoke, former CEO of Airbus and Space, future CEO of Volocopter, and Emmanuel Chiva, Director of the Defense Innovation Agency of the French Ministry of the Armed Forces, will bring their expertise and will be part of the Strategic Committee.
Dirk Hoke also said:
“The future of our planet will be played out into space, and Europe must resume a leading role. It is time for Europe to wake up and accelerate again in space exploration, telecommunications, observation and related technologies such as AI, cloud and edge computing. The EXPANSION Foundation will play an important role in helping European innovators grow in Europe. »
Support French and European strategic sovereignty
According to the two companies, the expansion will come ” complement the public efforts currently being implemented in France and in Europe to support ASD innovation from start-ups ”.
Several European initiatives, such as the France 2030 Plan, aim to install European sovereignty and to ” building tomorrow’s technological players ” especially in space.
Emmanuel Chiva, Director of the Defense Innovation Agency in the Ministry of the Armed Forces, says:
“There are races that you can not afford to lose. The Enlargement Fund will be strategic for France and Europe to play their full role in space innovation, so crucial to our strategic autonomy and to our response to tomorrow’s challenges. »
Charles Beigbeder, President and Founder of Audacia, confirms:
“The conquest of space is entering its second phase: the entrepreneurs’! Telecommunications, geolocation, observation, industrialization in micro-gravity, so many areas accelerated by New Space and its startups. The EXPANSION Fund will support this revolution, which will contribute to the essential reconstruction of our European sovereignty. »
François Chopard, founder and CEO of Starburst, concludes:
“Since its inception, Starburst has strived to build the missing bridges between the entrepreneurial actors in research and innovation with the companies and public organizations that are acting for the future. In addition to our special connection to Europe, it was necessary to act to help France and the EU countries catch up. We are pleased to take this new step in financing innovation in the aerospace, defense and defense sectors together with Audacia and a leading strategic board. »