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'Primo Space' has lift-off: First Italian fund to invest in space economy

Press Release From: European Commission
Posted: Monday, July 27, 2020

Italian fund manager Primomiglio announces the first closing of Primo Space, an early stage venture fund focused on space start-ups. The first closing of Primo Space reached an initial amount of €58 million with contributions of the European Investment Fund (EIB group), CDP Venture Capital SGR through the VenturItaly Fund of Funds, Compagnia di Sanpaolo, Luigi Rossi Luciani S.a.p.a., Banca Sella, in addition to the SGR itself and its key men. The final target size for the fund is set at €80 million. The EIF's €30 million commitment in the fund is part of the Investment Plan for Europe, and is supported by Horizon 2020, the European Commission's Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, and the new InnovFin Space Equity Pilot.

Primo Space will invest in technology spin-offs, start-ups and SMEs, and will work closely with the Italian research and academic world, including the Italian Space Agency, in order to bring the most promising technologies and entrepreneurial teams to the market. The Fund will target companies working in the “upstream” segment - meaning technology that builds space infrastructure, including electronics, robots and satellites - as well as in the “downstream” segment - earth-based applications enabled by space technology, particularly satellite networks, such as communications, cryptography, geolocation and earth observation.

Paolo Gentiloni, European Commissioner for the Economy, said: "Companies developing innovative technologies for the space sector really are venturing into the unknown. I am particularly pleased that the EU is providing financial backing for this ground-breaking fund, joining forces with the Italian Space Agency, opening the way to new investment and job creation in this fast-growing sector."

EIF Chief Executive, Alain Godard, said: “Primomiglio's affiliation with the Italian Space Agency, combined with the support of the EIF constitutes a unique collaboration that will give the Fund immediate international exposure. The Fund is the first investment executed under the new InnovFin Equity Space initiative, and will contribute to the creation of a new player dedicated to the aerospace sector, one of the priority focus areas of the European Union. We are very excited to be moving decisively into this space.“

The launch of Primo Space is a key milestone for us.” added Gianluca Dettori, Chairman of Primomiglio SGR. “It completes a development of two years and enables us to expand the investment spectrum of our firm, bringing on board a new management team focused on venture and technology innovation.

We are very pleased to start this journey at a time when it's key to boost economic growth in Italy.” said Matteo Cascinari. “It's even more interesting to be able to do it in such a strategic sector, which will rapidly grow in the coming decades. We want contribute to strengthening the Italian New Space Economy.”

"The Space Economy is a sector of primary importance in Italy, with a turnaround of 2 billion Euros and with over 7,000 employees throughout the supply chain. Until now a specialized venture capital fund was missing and Primo Space Fund represents an important opportunity to support technological innovation in our country ", comments Enrico Resmini, CEO and DG of CDP Venture Capital SGR SpA - National Innovation Fund.

"Our Foundation, acknowledging the strategic value of this sector, has made available its patient capitals for the closing of Primo Space, which represents a very important signal at an industrial level and gives an impulse to accelerate recovery in this delicate phase of recession", declared Francesco Profumo, President of the Compagnia di San Paolo, who recalls that "every Euro spent in this sector generates six euros of benefits for the community ".

The President of the Amaldi Foundation, Maria Cristina Falvella, says she is "particularly satisfied with the creation of the Primo Space fund, an ambitious project on which Primomiglio SGR has immediately engaged with enthusiasm, putting in place a team of the highest level to which our Foundation it will be able to make a decisive contribution to meeting investors' expectations and bring a new impetus to the national space ecosystem".

Italy is the second largest contributor to the European Space Agency and one of the top ten nations globally in the space sector, active across all areas of the market from manufacturing to services. Primo Space aims to contribute to making the European industry more competitive, by investing predominantly in Italy, and across Europe, as well as the US and Israel.

The development of new technologies, a market opening to the private sector with companies such as Space-X and Blue Origin, plus a favorable regulatory framework, are redefining the market dynamics creating what is described today as the “New Space Economy”. Satellite miniaturization and new launch technologies - including rocket reuse - are making the space market increasingly accessible to companies that can use this infrastructure for their business.

Background Information

Primomiglio is an investment company focused on early stage venture capital, founded and managed by a team with strong entrepreneurial background. It currently manages three funds: Barcamper Ventures, focused on software, Internet and digital, Barcamper Ventures Lazio, focused on territorial investments in the Rome region and Primo Space specialized in the New Space Economy.

The European Investment Fund (EIF) is part of the European Investment Bank Group. Its central mission is to support Europe's micro, small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) by helping them to access finance. EIF designs and develops venture and growth capital, guarantees and microfinance instruments which specifically target this market segment. In this role, EIF fosters EU objectives in support of innovation, research and development, entrepreneurship, growth, and employment.

This agreement has been made possible thanks to the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), main pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe.  The EFSI provides first loss guarantees, enabling the EIB to invest in more projects that often come with greater risks. The projects and agreements approved for financing under EFSI are expected to mobilise €514 billion in investments, of which €78.6 billion is in Italy. The Plan is currently supporting 1.4 billion SMEs in the 27 Member States. More information on the results of the Investment Plan for Europe is available here.

The EIF participation in the Fund also benefitted from the InnovFin Equity (InnovFin Space) programme, with the financial backing of the European Union under Horizon 2020, the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014-2020). Through or alongside selected Venture Capital (VC), Business Angels (BA), Technology Transfer funds and funds-of-funds, the EU provides risk capital financing to enterprises, research organisations, universities in their proof-of-concept, pre-seed, seed, start-up and other early-stage phases allowing them to set up or reach their next stage of development. The InnovFin Space Equity Pilot supports investments in capital funds whose strategies target increasing exposure in the area of upstream and downstream space technologies and project a path to commercialisation and market uptake for the benefits of the EU society. This is in line with the strong commitment across EU Member States to develop a globally competitive and innovative European space sector.

The E. Amaldi Foundation, promoter of Primo Space Fund and active in the New Space Economy through innovation and technology transfer in the space sector, is advisor to Primo Space and will support the investment team thanks to its strong skills in the sector, in the technical evaluation and technological due diligence.

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