French space-tech startup Leanspace raises €6m to digitalize the space industry via the cloud

French space-tech startup Leanspace raises €6m to digitalize the space industry via the cloud

Published: 04-07-2022 16:26:00 | By: Pie Kamau | hits: 369 | Tags:

Leanspace, the company building the digital infrastructure of the space industry, announced the closing of an oversubscribed seed financing round of €6 million. The funding will be used to scale up Leanspace’s cloud services platform, and was led by Karista and 42CAP, with complementary non-dilutive financing from Bpifrance. The new investors join leading space organizations already backing Leanspace, like Seraphim Space, the International Space University and strategic business angels.

The commercialization of the space industry and the ‘NewSpace’ paradigm have complexified, rather than simplified, the management of space missions. On top of the legacy requirements we’ve seen for decades: reliability, trust, bespoke developments, space programmes of today come with new needs: a drastic increase in agility and reduction of costs.

These new drivers call for new solutions: new software and processes that can truly leverage the cloud and digital engineering technologies. But space organizations face extreme challenges in adopting them. New entrants need to set up entire software infrastructures from scratch and lack the resources, time and know-how to do so. Established organizations are prisoners of complex legacy systems and of the risks of transforming them. Leanspace has been founded to make this transition easier, with the goal of enabling the digital transformation of space organizations.

Guillaume Tanier, Co-founder and CEO, Leanspace: “I’ve spent the last decade building and selling space software. The truth is: 80% is always the same, but people keep rebuilding their systems from scratch, stitching disparate technologies together and reinventing the wheel. In the NewSpace era, it does not make sense anymore. With my co-founders, we wanted to build this ‘80%’ once and make it available to every space player in an easy to use, transparent model, so that they can quickly build powerful, cloud-native space software.”

The platform - the exact term is ‘Platform-as-a-Service’ - offers a collection of space-specific cloud services that can be used via API, directly in the customer’s applications. Customers use Leanspace as an integration platform: they can quickly set up ground segments that scale easily and where data can flow, across systems and teams. They also use it as an innovation platform: they can develop their own systems, with their own methods, to answer their own, specific use case.

Incorporated in 2020 in Strasbourg, France, by an international team (the founders are French, Spanish, Canadian, and Indian) the company has grown to 25 employees in 2 years and already works with a dozen space customers, ranging from satellite operators for earth observation, in-orbit services and IoT, to launcher companies and software integrators. 

This €6 million seed round, led by Karista and 42CAP and complemented by Bpifrance, brings Leanspace’s total funding to €8.5M since its inception. Karista, a major European VC firm based in Paris, invested via its NewSpace fund CosmiCapital, backed by the French Space Agency (CNES). 42CAP is a Munich-based VC firm with a world-class expertise in B2B software companies and SaaS platforms. Bpifrance is the French agency for innovation, delivering financial and technical support to high-potential, innovative venture.

Michaël Thomas, Investment Director and Yvan-Michel Ehkirch, Managing Partner, Karista: “We were won by the team’s unique vision, complementarity and understanding of what it is to build a global venture. With such a mindset next to a solid technology, fleet management can now be disrupted in the whole NewSpace ecosystem and beyond within many industry verticals. Leanspace’s platform is answering one of the biggest challenges of NewSpace today, meaning the capacity to scale up fast ground infrastructures – one of the current market’s bottlenecks – in order to support the huge market growth”.

Julian von Fischer, Partner, 42CAP: “We have been analyzing the SpaceTech market for quite a while and finally found what we were looking for in Leanspace: a founding team with deep domain expertise, understanding the problems of the industry and a product which has the potential to redefine how software is used in space in the future. We believe that Leanspace has the capability to accelerate the paradigm shift happening in the market and become a core part of the future software stack of space companies. We are thankful to now be a small part of this journey.”

Karista and 42CAP join an existing group of world-class space organisations in supporting Leanspace’s vision: Seraphim Space, global leader in SpaceTech investment, from whose accelerator Leanspace graduated in late 2021; the International Space University (ISU), #1 space education provider in the world, which believed in Leanspace from the beginning and from which 2 founders are alumni; the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL), network of tier 1 space experts and entrepreneurs running an acceleration programme for massively scalable tech companies, which Leanspace just graduated from; and Bpifrance, which has been supporting Leanspace’s growth since its founding.

This new investment will enable the company to scale up its offerings, by bringing additional cloud services, putting in place a mature service delivery model, and building integrations with strategic partners.