Eutelsat headquarters
Eutelsat headquarters are located in Paris, France. Credit: Simon Lambert/REA

TAMPA, Fla. —  Eutelsat has invested in French venture capital firm Karista’s space technology fund to strengthen ties with startups across Europe, the satellite operator said Sept. 5.

The two-year-old fund has so far made early-stage investments ranging from one million to five million euros ($1.1 million to $5.4 million) in seven space-focused startups: 

About 30% of the 45 million euro funding pot has been deployed to date, Karista CEO Olivier Dubuisson told SpaceNews. The firm has a 2028 deadline to invest the rest.

Eutelsat did not disclose how much it invested in the fund but said partnering with the VC firm would help drive more innovation at the 46-year-old geostationary fleet operator.

The announcement comes as Eutelsat’s shareholders prepare to vote Sept. 28 on a merger with OneWeb, a British broadband startup with 634 satellites in low Earth orbit.

Dubuisson said 21 investors are now participating in its space fund, including other corporates such as CMA CGM, a French shipping and logistics company, and financial institutions BPIFrance and Covea.

French space agency CNES is the cornerstone investor of the fund and has an agreement with Karista that covers technical due diligence and assistance, purchasing of startup products or services, and access to major CNES suppliers.

While Eutelsat has previously partnered with a global space technology fund run by U.K.-based Seraphim Space, Dubuisson said Karista is solely focused on Europe.

“We think that Europe is the perfect playground for Spacetech investments,” he said via email.

There are many investment opportunities in Europe at prices that are more reasonable than in the United States, he added. 

Karista and other VC firms hope adding more space investment capacity in Europe will help the region close the gap with the United States, where tech investors a decade ago helped usher in a flood of entrepreneurial startups to the industry.

Thomas Baden, managing partner of Swiss private equity firm Neventa Capital, said in June there had been more space technology funding in Europe for the first half of the year than in all of 2022.

Jason Rainbow writes about satellite telecom, space finance and commercial markets for SpaceNews. He has spent more than a decade covering the global space industry as a business journalist. Previously, he was Group Editor-in-Chief for Finance Information...