Home Industry Orbex secures £16.7m investment for rocket development

Orbex secures £16.7m investment for rocket development

The British space company Orbex, which also relies on 3D printing for production, has received GBP 16.7 million as part of an updated Series C funding round from six investors.

The funds are intended to accelerate the development of the Prime rocket, a 19-meter-long, two-stage rocket for transporting small satellites into low Earth orbit.

Phillip Chambers, CEO of Orbex, said: “Orbex is one of only two space rocket manufacturers in the UK, and the only one to also operate its own spaceport. Our technology is pivotal in making the UK a hub for European orbital launch, and we are entering a critical phase of development. We are building a sustainable, cost-effective launch vehicle to compete with the best of Europe’s spaceflight manufacturers. This additional funding will support our goal to push on into an operational launch phase, and scale our business when the time comes.”

Orbex, which already holds two active patents in Europe and the US for its rocket technology, stands out for its use of a renewable biofuel that significantly reduces CO2 emissions compared to similar rocket projects worldwide. Investors in this funding round include the Scottish National Investment Bank, which contributed £10.5 million, and venture capital firms Octopus Ventures and BGF. The Danish Export & Investment Fund (EIFO) and other corporate and angel investors also participated.

Nicola Douglas, Executive Director of Innovation at the Scottish National Investment Bank, said: “The Bank recognises the unique potential the space industry offers for Scotland. We are perfectly placed to leverage our geographical location, vibrant business and innovation landscape, and our skilled workers to be one of the most significant global players in this growing industry. At the Bank, we have been particularly drawn to Orbex’s commitment to sustainability through its use of renewable biofuel and launch technology, all working towards the goal of carbon neutrality. Its approach perfectly aligns to our net zero and innovation missions. This follow-on investment comes at an exciting time as Orbex expands its manufacturing and looks to complete its Sutherland Spaceport this year.”

Paddy Graham, Head of Scotland at BGF, said: “Orbex has made significant progress since we first invested, becoming one of the leading players in the UK space sector. We are pleased to build on our support for the business and will continue to work closely with the company’s renewed leadership team as they work towards the initial launch phase.”

At the beginning of the year, Phillip Chambers joined Orbex as the new CEO and also took a financial stake in the company. Together with Miguel Belló Mora, the former Director General of the Spanish Space Agency, he strengthens the management team.

Erik Balck Sørensen, CIO at Export & Investment Fund of Denmark (EIFO), said: “EIFO is thrilled to continue giving support to Orbex as it is one of the few companies with Danish presence that fulfils the strategic focus EIFO has within the defence, green transition and commercialization of research. Whereas the EU currently relies on the US or other foreign countries, Orbex can in the near future give the EU space launch capabilities again. The Orbex technology platform provides a significant reduction in CO2 equivalent emissions through innovative combustion design and use of green fuels. Furthermore the addition of Phillip Chambers as CEO and Miguel Bello as Executive Chairman to bolster the current stellar R&D and engineering team is a constellation EIFO as an organization want to support.“

Simon King, Partner at Octopus Ventures, said: “We’re delighted to continue supporting Orbex on their journey as Europe’s leading private launch services company. We’ve been incredibly impressed with the new leadership team and wider team’s progress, and we’re particularly excited about the progress towards first launch. At Octopus Ventures we invest in the people, ideas and industries that will change the world ─ Orbex is a fantastic example of a business doing exactly that.”

With the completion of this financing round and the upcoming tests, Orbex is on its way to becoming a leading private space company in Europe and is already planning a Series D financing round to secure its long-term market position.

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