ClearSpace raises €26 million to cleanup space in a Series A round led by OTB Ventures and Swisscom Ventures
Renens, Switzerland, January 19, 2023. ClearSpace, the Swiss–based leader of in–orbit servicing and active space debris removal, is delighted to announce that it has finalised a EUR 26.7 million series A financing round, to further accelerate the movement toward the sustainable use of space.
ClearSpace is ramping up operations ahead of the world’s first space debris removal mission, ClearSpace-1, scheduled to launch in 2026.
This new financing round brings together a global team of venture capital investors, led by OTB Ventures backed by the European Investment Fund under InvestEU programme and Swisscom Ventures, with participation from the Luxembourg Future Fund, Lakestar, In-Q-Tel, Happiness Capital and 600 T Space Investments. As part of the financing, ClearSpace is establishing an operational presence in Luxembourg that will benefit from the strong space and satellite focus there.
The company recently announced a satellite life-extension collaboration with satcom operator Intelsat, building upon the technology being developed under the EUR 110 million space debris removal mission, ClearSpace-1, secured from the European Space Agency (ESA) in 2020. ClearSpace-1, which is supported by Omega as Elite Partner, will be the first of numerous missions ClearSpace is planning for both low-Earth and geostationary orbits.
The global space market is booming, driven by strategic and commercial interest from governments, technology innovations opening up new markets for the private sector, and reduced satellite launch costs.
Citigroup predicts that the space industry should reach USD 1 trillion in annual revenue by 2040.
Meanwhile, decades of unsustainable practices have congested the near-Earth orbital regime with a plethora of dead and defunct satellites and rockets. According to ESA, there are 32,480 debris items orbiting the Earth that are tracked by space surveillance networks and more than 130 million currently untrackable objects ranging in size from 1 mm to greater than 10 cm. This space junk not only pollutes our fragile near-Earth environment, but it also represents a critical risk to active satellites that can (and have been) destroyed in high-speed collisions with such debris.
ClearSpace was founded in 2018 with the sole aim of making space operations more sustainable. The company is developing technologies and services that are needed to extend the life of active satellites, for example when they run out of fuel, and to safely remove them from orbit when they have reached their end of life. Such services are critical for maximising the value from space-based assets, and for preventing the dangerous build-up of space debris objects.
ClearSpace Co-founders, CEO Luc Piguet and CTO Muriel Richard-Noca said “We began this company 4 years ago with the goal of making space operations sustainable and are delighted to be joined on our journey by our new partner investors. The market is now developing, much faster than we had expected, and we look forward to accelerating our activities to meet the urgent needs of space sustainability.”
Adam Niewiński, GP & Co-founder at OTB Ventures said “Funding new science and technology developments is crucial to growing the space sector and catalysing further investment into the economy. Private investment in space companies, especially from venture capital, has steadily broken annual records over the past decade. With the backing from our limited partners, which include the European Investment Fund (EIF), we look to invest in leaders of the new space sector, that will dominate the next phase of space operations. Tens of thousands of artificial objects are tracked in orbit around the Earth, with many times that expected to be in orbit but are too small to be tracked. ClearSpace is developing key technologies for satellite proximity and rendezvous operations in space, which is essential for the sustainable future of space.”
Dominique Megret of Swisscom Ventures said “Swisscom Ventures is delighted to back our Swiss made champion ClearSpace in its mission to make space operations sustainable, ClearSpace is a deep tech landmark, and we look forward to working with the team going forward.”
The Luxembourg Future Fund (LFF) Board said “The Luxembourg Future Fund (LFF) is very happy to participate in this important financing round to support ClearSpace in its unprecedented mission of in-orbit servicing and space debris removal. Supporting companies like ClearSpace in their quest to ensure more sustainable space operations is of crucial importance in light of the growing space industry. We are excited to see ClearSpace develop operations here in Luxembourg and forge close bonds with both private & public players within Luxembourg’s vibrant and growing space sector. ClearSpace marks the final LFF co-investment and yet another innovative new space investment as part of the LFF portfolio and we welcome the company to Luxembourg with open arms.”
ClearSpace was advised on the financing round by Silverpeak LLP (financial) and Niederer Kraft Frey Ltd/Tavernier Tschanz (legal).
▶️ Download the Artistic impression of a ClearSpace Mission deorbiting a defunct satellite. © ClearSpace
▶️ Download other ClearSpace’s images.
ClearSpace SA, is an In-Orbit Services (IOS) company, created in 2018, intend to revolutionizing how space missions are conducted. ClearSpace is creating the technologies that will support a wide range of IOS applications, from disposal and in-orbit transport to mission extension, assembly, manufacturing, repair, and recycling. ClearSpace aims to support institutions and commercial operators alike, to enhance sustainable space operations and promote a circular space economy. In 2020, the company was awarded a service contract by ESA to develop ClearSpace-1, using state of the art technology and advanced on-orbit techniques to demonstrate the feasibility of removing debris from orbit. The ClearSpace-1 mission is also supported by Omega as Elite Partner.
ClearSpace is growing rapidly with teams in Switzerland, the UK and Germany, and is actively engaged in the initial phases of two other in-orbit servicing missions in addition to ClearSpace-1.
OTB Ventures is a leading venture capital fund in Europe that is focused on investing in the early growth, post-product, DeepTech startups from the CEE market. OTB Ventures’ goal is to support startup founders that are developing unique technologies in 4 key verticals: SpaceTech, AI & Automation, FinTech and Cybersecurity. OTB Ventures was established in 2017 by Gregory Jankilevitsch, Marcin Hejka and Adam Niewinski, and is currently the largest VC originating from the CEE, managing over $300M. OTB team is working from two offices: Amsterdam (Netherlands) and Warsaw (Poland).
OTB Ventures believes that transparent, deep and constant dialogue with founders is essential for effectively cooperation and support. The firm provides guidance, mentorship and advice, as well as strategic support and in-depth market knowledge. OTB Ventures utilizes industry, financial and personal networks – backed by our strong market reputation as a fair and founder-friendly investor. The VC fund is constantly searching for the next investment opportunity – and encourages ambitious, driven disruptors to reach out and get in touch with them.
About Swisscom Ventures
Swisscom Ventures is the venture capital arm of Swisscom AG, the leading telecom and IT provider in Switzerland. Since 2007, we have invested in over 80 technology companies from our offices in Switzerland (Zurich, Bern, Lausanne) and the USA (Silicon Valley). With over $650 million assets under management and advisory, of which two thirds is financed by 20 institutional investors and one third by Swisscom, we invest during the full life cycle of high potential startups. Our minority investments typically range from $1 million per company at early stage up to $20 million in growth rounds. As a strategic investor, we offer entrepreneurs access to our technical infrastructure and market channels in addition to financial support.
Lakestar’s mission is to find, fund and grow disruptive businesses – enabled by technology – that are founded by exceptional entrepreneurs in Europe and beyond. Founded by Klaus Hommels, the team’s early investments include Skype, Spotify, Facebook and Airbnb. Since raising its first fund in 2012, Lakestar manages an aggregated volume of over €1.6bn across three early stage funds and a growth fund.
The team actively advises and supports portfolio companies in marketing, recruitment, technology, product development and regulatory insight, accompanying founders from seed to early stage to growth stage or exit. Lakestar currently has the privilege of holding investments in Revolut, Blockchain.com, Opendoor, Oscar, GetYourGuide, sennder, Eigen, Public.com, SoFi, Solarisbank, Uncapped, Yapily, Terra Quantum, accuRx, Rhino, ZEBEDEE and Hometogo to name a few. Lakestar has presence in Berlin, Zurich and London.