Posted on Apr 13, 2022, 6:22 PM
The founders of private equity firm Audacia and founding fund Starburst, Charles Beigbeder and François Chopard, have decided to join forces to give a major boost to funding aerospace and military startups. Rather than developing their own investment vehicle in their own corner, the two men joined in their efforts and announced the creation of an expansion fund. They hope to raise 100 million euros before the end of the year, and quickly reach 300 million euros.
Be the first fund in European aviation
Their ambition is to become the first French and European private investment fund dedicated to the aerospace and defense sectors, in order to grow the best of countless start-ups taking off in new space, carbon-neutral aviation, hydrogen and defense, in France but also in Europe.
The expansion fund will cover the initial phase (between 50 and 100,000 euros in financing), the works carried out today by Starburst, the fund created by François Chopard, to Series B (funding of ten million euros), which should allow young companies to take off. The goal is not only to attract private investors, but also the state, which has just launched the France 2030 investment plan, of which 1.5 billion euros has been allocated to accelerating innovations in space, in order to make up for the delays that occurred with the United States and China.
Four months ago, multi-entrepreneur Charles Begbedeer, who introduced his management company Audacia at Euronext Growth Paris in October, created Geodesic, an investment fund specifically for startups New Space. So this project will be incorporated into the new expansion fund. Charles Beigbeder brought his first investments there in a few companies like Share my Space in satellite discovery, Zephalto which relies on flights in balloons in the stratosphere or HyPr Space, which specializes in space propulsion. Very quickly, this portfolio will be able to grow with companies “prepared” by Starburst such as Prometheus, Venture Orbital Systems or Delfox. With a core Starburst fund created in 2012, Starburst tracks one hundred companies. In France, the fund joined forces with Ecole Polytechnique and Onera, the French Center for Space Research to create the Blast programme, which selected about two dozen projects.
Sandra Bodemeyer, co-founder of Starburst, will manage the expansion fund with Pierre-François Fellegrain, a former employee of ArianeGroup and Airbus, hired by Charles Beigbeder of Geodesic. They have the support of two heavyweights in the aerospace and defense world, which enter the Strategic Council, Director of the Defense Innovation Agency, Emmanuel Chiva and former President of Airbus Defense and Space, Dirk Hawk. After a year off, Dirk Hoek will take over Volocopter, a German start-up in September that has had to go to the US and South Korea when it comes to raising tens of millions of euros. “For several months, Starburst has wanted to build a box and scale up production,” says Sandra Bodemir. “Now we have to find the money so that our best companies don’t have to go to the US as soon as they need significant funding and explain to investors.” Comme l’explique François Chopard, si l’Europe veut rester dans la course spatiale et ne pas être déclassée, elle a besoin de deux à trois fonds de 300 à 500 millions d’euros pour faire émerger les start-up de l’Aerospace in France. Ideally, the state will contribute one third of the capital. And remember, good ideas abound in France, but while the US Air Force allocates $1 billion annually to American startups, the best hardly raises more than 5 million in France.
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