WASHINGTON — The French space agency CNES is creating an investment fund of 80 to 100 million euros ($95 to $119 million) to spur innovation in the space sector.
Jean-Yves Le Gall announced the fund during an interview with French publication Les Echos posted May 7. Few details have been released about the fund.
In an April interview with SpaceNews, Le Gall said the mindset inside CNES toward “NewSpace” companies — firms typically running on venture capital with a mission to disrupt the space sector with new products and services — has shifted radically in recent years.
“We completely changed our approach and we consider CNES has a very important role to play in NewSpace,” he said. “This is exactly what we are doing.”
Le Gall said CNES wants to work with startups worldwide, as evidenced by last year’s partnership with Australian company Fleet. CNES agreed to provide tracking services for the first two spacecraft in Fleet’s constellation as the startup builds a constellation to connect Internet of Things devices around the world.
“We want to be everywhere where space can bring something to citizens,” Le Gall said. “This is our new strategy and it pays because we are an actor which is very well known and because we are involved in so many fields of activity.”
CNES’s space fund follows a similar effort in Japan to bring to bear more financial resources for space startups, particularly outside the U.S. where venture capital doesn’t flow as readily to such companies. In March, Prime Minister Shinzō Abe announced a 100 billion yen ($940 million) venture capital pool with funding from the Development Bank of Japan, Industrial Innovation Organization, and other organizations, to be offered over five years to Japanese space companies.