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That was the 10th ESA Investment Forum 2019

Entrepreneurship and Investment in Space

Investment, entrepreneurship and space are for itself broad subjects. But together these three still form a niche in Germany. In order to change this and to foster investment in space innovations the European Space Agency (ESA), High-Tech Gründerfonds Management GmbH (HTGF) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) organised the 10th ESA Investment Forum at ESA/ESOC in Darmstadt on 31st January 2019.

120 participants, more than 20 investors and 14 well-prepared start-ups

The main aim of the first ESA Investment Forum in Germany was to bring together investors and start-ups and provide them with a networking platform. According to the participants it was a full success: „Thanks for the organisation of what was probably the best ever ESA investment forum. Good companies, well pitch-trained, great timekeeping,“ says investor Rainer Horn from SpaceTec Capital. Entrepreneur Pablo Ruiz Sánchez resumes: „It has been a useful event for Deep Blue Globe and we got approached by some interested investors.“

The 14 presenting start-ups received intensive coaching, prior to the event on an individual basis as well as on January 30th all together at ESOC. The valuable coaches were Christian Ziach (HTGF), Erhard Seeger (BrainFleet), Jörg Bartsch (Business Angels Frankfurt RheinMain e.V.), Dimitrios Matsakis (MobyGIS) and Dr Georg Willich (Airbus). Wednesday, 30th January closed with a joint dinner of start-ups, coaches, investors and organizers at a restaurant, which at the same time formed a prelude to the actual event the next day.

Lively podium discussions

High-ranking personalities opened the ESA Investment Forum on 31st January, namely Dr. Rolf Densing, ESA Director of Operations and Head of ESOC, Dr Gerd Kraft, Director Space Programs from the German Aerospace Center DLR, Space Administration, Dr Alexander von Frankenberg, Managing Director of High-Tech Gründerfonds Management GmbH (HTGF), Frank Salzgeber, Head of ESA Technology Transfer and Business Incubation Office (TTPO) and Dr Frank Zimmermann from ESA BIC Hessen & Baden-Württemberg, CEO cesah GmbH.

Bildquelle: Lenhardt, cesah GmbH

Two podium discussions filled the morning program. The first was moderated by Frank Salzgeber, Head of ESA TTPO and dealt with the question “Entrepreneurship in Space – Why does Germany need a 1 B€ Space Fund?” In the podium were Claudia Kessler (Die Astronautin), Gareth Keane (Promus Ventures) and Jörg Kreisel (JKIC). The animated session was cheered up even more by some space-“Dalli Dalli” quizzing. 

The second podium discussion “Investment in Space – What are investors currently looking for?” moderated Christian Ziach, Investment Manager at HTGF. The lively podium consisted of Rainer Horn (SpaceTec Capital), Yann Fiebig (HTGF), Jochen Harms (OHB Venture Capital), Herbert Mangesius (Vito Ventures) and Martin Giese (XPRENEURS).

Exciting pitch sessions

After the lunch break, which also served for matchmaking, the actual pitching of the start-ups began. In two sessions the 14 entrepreneurs presented their business (idea) to the audience and had to answer the questions of a dedicated investor panel. Moderation of the first pitch session took Dr Frank Zimmermann, cesah GmbH. The investor panel consisted of Gareth Keane (Promus Ventures), Dr Maciej Pasternak (abacus alpha), Erhard Seeger (BrainFleet) and Martin Giese (XPRENEURS). Pitching start-ups were Spacenus GmbH, HOSTmi, NAiSE GmbH, LuxFlux GmbH, Rocket Factory Augsburg GmbH, S4 Space AG and POLARIS Raumflugzeuge KG. 

Bildquelle: Lenhardt, cesah GmbH

The second pitch session moderated Cornelia Gebath from ESA BIC Bavaria, Anwendungszentrum GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen. In the investor panel were Yann Fiebig (HTGF), Jochen Harms (OHB Venture Capital), Herbert Mangesius (Vito Ventures) and Martin Giese (XPRENEURS). Pitching start-ups were Morpheus Space GmbH, INVOLI, Valispace, AIKO, Deep Blue Globe UG, satsearch and Isar Aerospace Technologies GmbH. Dr Manu Lubrano from INVOLI called it later an “incredible event!”

Last but not least the over 20 investors could participate in the workshop “Space Investment in Germany” moderated by Christian Ziach, HTGF. 

Great matchmaking

One can sum up: Great visionaries need great supporters. Great supporters need to know about great visionaries. To match these was the intention of the 10th ESA Investment Forum 2019 and it seems to have worked out. Feedback has been positive without exception. A good ground for investment in space innovations in Germany and a great success for all participants.