An overview of the investment market in the UK space sector


The UK space sector is growing and investment interest is keeping pace. According to the 2023 PwC and UK Space Agency report "Expanding Frontiers", the UK is the most attractive destination for private investment in space after the USA. Nine of the largest UK venture capital firms have invested in space since 2015.

Whilst that report highlights the interest in the UK market the start-ups we speak to have spoken of the difficulties of securing investment, with scale-ups finding it easier but by no means a cakewalk. Investment interest has waxed and waned over the last few years and the market has changed.

The peak of investment was seen in 2021, but 2023 saw investments start to pick up again after a quiet 2022. In 2024 there are already some interesting raises on the radar, such as a $30m Series B for French launch startup Latitude (dedicated launchers for smallsat operators) and a €100m Series C for Italian space logistics company D-Orbit (space logistics infrastructure including space waste management services).

The investment market is maturing. In a similar vein to other innovative sectors such as technology and biosciences, investors are seeking investment ready businesses with robust business plans. In this article, the Foot Anstey space law team give a quick overview of the sector evolution and what businesses seeking investment, and investors pursuing opportunities in this sector, need to consider.

UK space sector

Space as a commercial sector is often presented in the media as the domain of billionaire entrepreneurs, such as Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson, who are developing space tourism and other high-cost offerings. Whilst these media-friendly segments exist, far more of space activity is the invisible underpinning services that support our daily lives.

Satellites form the mostly hidden network that enables satellite communications and connectivity, earth observation, and space based position, navigation, and timing. These services are used across multiple sectors and at all levels of the chain, from huge utility companies using space data to monitor their infrastructure to individuals using their smartphones to navigate. New uses to support commercial and social issues are constantly being trialled.

The growth of in-orbit plans also opens new possibilities for in-orbit servicing, manufacturing, power generation, and debris removal services. There is a breadth and depth of space investment opportunities in the UK.

The PwC and UKSA Report highlights that the UK specifically is the second most popular destination for private investment in space (after the USA), has circa 1,590 UK space companies, and is the number one global producer of top cited space research with over 50 UK universities having active space functions. The UK government stated in the first National Space Strategy published in 2021 that the aim was to "build one of the most innovative and attractive space economies in the world".

Revenue generation

Space is still full of novel ideas and entrepreneurs. The investment market reflects this but also shows that the market has been maturing. PwC report that in 2015 just 56% of space investments were in revenue-generating companies. By 2022 this figure had jumped to 95%.

Investors are seeking revenue-generating businesses, but this does not mean they have lost their appetite for risk – at the peak of investments in 2021 63% of investors were first-timers in the space sector. For first-timers without a background and deep knowledge of the sector, simply moving into the sector is a step into the unknown and investing in revenue-generating businesses helps assuage fears.


Industry analysts including Deutsche Bank and the Wall Street Journal have predicted that the early signs of industry consolidation are set to develop into a trend. PwC set out examples of this in three areas; satellite communications, earth observation, and spacecraft manufacturing.

Since the PwC and UKSA Report was written Viasat have completed their acquisition of Inmarsat in the satellite communications field. In earth observation Planet acquired VanderSat, and BAE Systems acquired the satellite manufacturing In-Space Missions. In September 2023 Eutelsat completed their all-share combination with OneWeb, with OneWeb becoming the subsidiary Eutelsat OneWeb. These limited examples demonstrate that as new space companies proliferate existing players may seek to leverage their proven track record and size to gain expanded market share through acquisition.

Investors in the UK

The UK is home to the leading space Venture Capital Fund, Seraphim Capital. The US space and deep tech fund TypeOne VC has also opened a UK office. As expected, the specific space/aerospace focused investors are also the most active, but investment is not limited to these specialists.

Nine of the fifteen largest UK-based Venture Capital firms have invested in space companies since 2015, including Octopus Ventures, Molten, and Index Ventures.

PwC noted that investment into space is also coming from partnerships such as John Deere and SpaceX, so investment is coming from established businesses and not just investment houses. Direct-to-cell satellite firm AST SpaceMobile has received investment from AT&T, Google, and Vodafone. Established businesses are viewing this as a long-term strategic investment in their area of specialism.

Investment readiness

PwC points out that the share prices of many publicly listed companies in the space sector have declined from market peaks, in line with the rise and fall of prices of innovative stocks across other sectors. The report states that:

"In a landscape of tighter capital markets, our work in the sector has highlighted greater attention being placed on robust business models and revenue generation."

This is to be expected in a maturing market. There is ample room for innovation and experimentation, but investors expect to see investment ready businesses. This means, for example, ensuring that your business can generate financial information accurately and quickly, that your management team are incentivised to make the process as smooth as possible, and that you've reviewed your operational management to pre-empt and address issues for purchasers. We will be covering how to navigate investment readiness in our next article.

Our advice

Investment readiness is more than a state of mind – it is ensuring that investors conducting their due diligence find only reasons to proceed. To attract investment in a maturing market your business needs to ensure that the basics of legal governance, IP protection, supply and employment contracts, and shareholder agreements are securely in place.

The Foot Anstey Space law team has experience in supporting businesses at all stages to attract and secure investment, and investors seeking opportunities in this exciting market. Contact us for advice on all aspects of investment and growth.

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