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OSTF backs space technologies

Belgium: European Space Agency (ESA) will strengthen its business incubation initiatives by supporting new businesses using space innovations through a dedicated venture capital fund, Open Sky Technologies Fund (OSTF). It is an early-stage venture capital fund aimed at nurturing the most promising business opportunities arising from space technologies and satellite applications for terrestrial industries. The OSTF will be managed by Triangle Venture Capital Group on ESA’s behalf.

Michel Courtois, ESA Director of Technical and Quality Management, formally signed an agreement with Bernd Geiger, Managing General Partner and founder of Triangle, at ESA Headquarters on 4 March in Brussels, Belgium. The fund has attained an initial ‘first closing’ value of €15 million, with the target of raising up to €100 million by June 2011. It will source investment opportunities across all 18 ESA Member States identified through ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme Office (TTPO) and its partners.

“The OSTF is ESA’s first step into the venture capital world but represents a logical next step from our existing technology transfer activities,” said Director Courtois. “With the OSTF, ESA is supporting young and entrepreneurial companies which are putting innovative ideas from space technology, services and applications to terrestrial uses. This will help to increase the benefits coming back from space to European citizens.”

Triangle has become a leading early-stage technology investor, with four funds managed to date. The company has a long-standing affinity with the sector and related expertise, including investor status in a prominent ESA spin-off company iOpener Media, which uses satnav-derived location-based service technology to facilitate real time integration of real-world objects such as Formula 1 racing cars into virtual gaming environments. IOpener is part of the ESTEC Business Incubation Centre (BIC) in Noordwijk, the Netherlands.

Source: European Space Agency