Funding and Sales Resources for Space Entrepreneurs

Table Of Contents
  1. Introduction
  2. Venture Capital +
  3. United States
  4. Canada
  5. Europe

Introduction

This article is intended to help space entrepreneurs discover opportunities to secure funding and sales opportunities. Information on the following resources are provided:

  • international venture capital firms that invest in space opportunities; and
  • opportunities to partner with governments by selling goods and services, conducting research, technology development and testing, applying for grants, etc.

Resources are provided for the United States, Canada, and Europe.

This article will be updated periodically as a new information becomes available. Last updated on January 18, 2023.

Venture Capital +

The following spreadsheet provides information related to organizations that can be a source of funds for space startups: venture capital firms, accelerators, incubators, competitions, crowdsourcing, and angels.

United States

Federal Contract Opportunities SAM.GOV – Contract opportunities are procurement notices from federal contracting offices. Anyone interested in doing business with the government can use this system to search opportunities. Opportunities include pre-solicitation notices, solicitation notices, award notices, and sole source notices.

Department of Commerce Agencies

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Technology Partnerships Office – This portal contains information and links to both NOAA’s small business and technology transfer programs.

Acquisition & Grants Office – Facilitating strategic relationships to support NOAA’s mission.

Commercial Weather Data Pilot – Information and solicitations for satellite data buys and other commercial relationships.

Economic Development Agency (EDA)

Regional Innovation Strategies – EDA’s Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) programs provide economically distressed communities and regions with comprehensive and flexible resources to address a wide variety of economic needs.

Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA)

Find a Business Center – Minority-owned firms seeking to penetrate new markets — domestic & global — and growing in size and scale, can access business experts at a MBDA Business Center.

Other Civil Agencies

Small Business Administration (SBA)

SBIR Program – The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is a highly competitive program that encourages domestic small businesses to engage in Federal Research/Research and Development (R/R&D) that has the potential for commercialization. 

STTR Program – The Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) is another program that expands funding opportunities in the federal innovation research and development (R&D) arena.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

SBIR Solicitations – The NASA SBIR and STTR programs fund the research, development, and demonstration of innovative technologies that fulfill NASA needs as described in the annual Solicitations and have significant potential for successful commercialization. If you are a small business concern (SBC) with 500 or fewer employees or a non-profit RI such as a university or a research laboratory with ties to an SBC, then NASA encourages you to learn more about the SBIR and STTR programs as a potential source of seed funding for the development of your innovations.

LEO Commercialization Opportunities – Resources, Broad Agency Announcements, and Requests for Information related to NASA’s LEO commercialization initiative are listed here.

NASA Procurement Homepage – Main portal for every NASA mission directorate, contains information regarding procurement needs and how to submit unsolicited proposals.

Department of Energy (DOE)

Lab Partnering Service – The DOE Office of Commercialization offers entrepreneurs access to the resources and expertise of the national laboratory system. In addition, the Office also offers SBIR grants and other funding to early stage tech startups.

Department of Transportation (DOT)

SBIR Program – DOT’s SBIR program awards contracts to domestic small businesses to pursue research on and develop innovative solutions to transportation challenges.

National Security Agencies

Air Force

SBIR/STTR Office – Directory for Air Force SBIR, Pitch Day, and technology programs.

Small Business Portal – Portal for Air Force Pitch Days, Requests for Information, SBIRs, and project submissions.

Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Catalyst Space Accelerator – A defense and national security industry accelerator, headquartered on the Catalyst Campus for Technology and Innovation in Colorado.

AFWERX – SBIR opportunities in specific technology focus areas.

AFWERX Challenge – Where individuals, startups, small businesses, large enterprises, academics and research labs submit solutions to specific challenges that the Air Force launches.

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)

Opportunities – DARPA pursues opportunities for transformational change rather than incremental advances. Their current areas of interest are listed on this page.

Broad Agency Announcements – DARPA publicizes funding opportunities primarily by posting Broad Agency Announcements (BAAs) that formally solicit proposals tied to program-specific areas of research and development. In addition to those opportunities, each DARPA technical office maintains an “office-wide” BAA that offers a mechanism for researchers to reach DARPA with an idea that may fall outside of DARPA’s current priorities, but that the proposer feels could be valuable to national security.

Defense Innovation Unit (DIU)

Business Partnerships – Provides non-dilutive capital in the form of pilot contracts for commercial innovation that solves Department of Defense (DoD) problems. Decisions are made quickly, usually in under 90 days. Pilot contracts can include hardware, software, or unique services. More importantly, after a successful pilot, the company involved and any DoD entity can easily enter into follow-on contracts, just as fast.

Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)

Business Solicitations/Needapedia – The list of needs provided on the website is designed to communicate the solutions DIA is seeking, while providing an entry point into government acquisition through an Open Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) and Commercial Solutions Opening (CSO).

Office of Small Business Programs – DIA-OSBP serves as the Agency’s focal point for issues and practices concerning small business utilization. The office promotes the use of small, small disadvantaged, women-owned small business, HUBZone and Veteran-owned and Service-disabled veteran-owned small business.

Department of Defense (DoD)

Defense Innovation Marketplace – This website was created to improve communication between DoD and industry about DoD investment priorities and Independent Research & Development (IR&D) projects occurring in industry.

Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency (IARPA)

Working with IARPA – Portal for solicitations, requests for information, and submitting proposals.

Research Programs Database – List of all current IARPA projects and their points of contact.

In Q Tel (IQT)

Startup Submission Portal – IQT is interested in revolutionary tech tools to help the intelligence and defense communities keep the US safe.

National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA)

Contract Opportunities (SAM.gov) – A complete list of all solicitations made by NGA, including transportation, operations, and logistical support.

Moonshot Labs – unclassified innovation hub.

Naval Research Laboratory (NRL)

NRL Broad Agency Announcements – Portal containing solicitations for services from private industry.

Canada

Canada Buys – Government of Canada posts tenders for goods and services on this website.

Innovation, Science and Economic Development

Canada Business App

In June 2019, the Government of Canada launched the Canada Business App. The app makes it easier for small business owners to navigate government services and provides tailored recommendations and personalized notifications on funding applications.

Innovation Canada

The Innovation Canada webpage allows businesses to find programs and services tailored to their needs. Companies can filter available programs based on their region, business sector, number of employees, and more.

Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF)

SIF‘s objective is to spur innovation for a better Canada. Specifically, it serves to simplify application processes, accelerate processing, and provide assistance that is more responsive and focused on results.

The program has five streams, each with its own objective:

  • Stream 1: Encourage research and development (R&D) that will accelerate technology transfer and commercialization of innovative products, processes and services;
  • Stream 2: Facilitate the growth and expansion of firms in Canada;
  • Stream 3: Attract and retain large scale investments to Canada; and
  • Stream 4: Advance industrial research, development and technology demonstration through collaboration between the private sector, researchers and non-profit organizations.
  • Stream 5: Support large-scale, national innovation ecosystems through high impact collaborations across Canada.

Innovative Solutions Canada

Innovative Solutions Canada is aimed squarely at innovators. By funding proposed solutions, the program is supporting the development of early-stage, pre-commercial innovations. Participating federal departments and agencies will issue public challenges designed around a desired outcome rather than a known product or process specification and will be based on each department’s mission and mandate.

Defence Procurement Strategy (DPS)

The Defence Procurement Strategy (DPS) has three key objectives: delivering the right equipment to the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and the Canadian Coast Guard in a timely manner; leveraging our purchases of defence equipment to create jobs and economic growth in Canada; and streamlining defence procurement processes.

Industrial and Technological Benefits Policy

The ITB Policy is a new, powerful investment attraction tool for Canada. It will encourage companies to establish or grow their presence in Canada, strengthen Canada’s supply chains, and develop Canadian industrial capabilities.

Other Federal Support and Initiatives

Business Development Bank of Canada

Whether you are looking to expand production, purchase new equipment or access financing for a special project, the Business Development Bank of Canada can help you move forward with the right business loan.

Canada Small Business Financing Program

The Canada Small Business Financing Program helps small businesses obtain term loans of up to $1 million for the purchase or improvement of tangible assets, of which no more than $350,000 can be used to finance the purchase or improvement of equipment and the purchase of leasehold improvements.

Canadian Space Agency

The Space Technology Development Fund (STDP) is available to organizations seeking financial and technical support to perform R&D on space technologies. The development of space technologies required for future Canadian missions are contracted through a competitive request for proposal process; funding (repayable contribution, typically $100K to $1M) is made available typically on an annual basis through an Announcement of Opportunity (AO).

SmartEarth is the Canadian Space Agency’s (CSA) renewed funding initiative related to Earth observation applications development. It fosters a smart use of satellite data to develop solutions to key challenges on Earth and in our everyday lives.

The Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program (LEAP) is a CSA program that is looking to foster innovation in areas of strength for Canada, such as artificial intelligence, robotics, science and health. It will support the commercialization of innovative ideas from Canadian industry, including small and medium-sized businesses, in order to help them become an integral part of the growing new-space economy. With a specific focus on deep space, LEAP will enable the Canadian space sector to develop and conduct science experiments designed for lunar conditions, advance and demonstrate innovative technologies in lunar orbit, the lunar surface, and beyond, and develop technologies that will be required as part of future deep-space missions.

Other Canadian and International Opportunities: CSA provides the space community with numerous funding opportunities through contracts, grants, and contributions.

CanExport

CanExport provides financial support to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) develop new export opportunities and markets.

Export Development Canada

Export Development Canada is Canada’s export credit agency; it supports and develops Canada’s Export trade by providing insurance and financial services to Canadian Exporters and their international buyers.

National Research Council Programs

Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) enables SMEs to access technology and business advice, contacts, and national and international networks. It also engages in cost-shared R&D projects with its clients.

Networks of Centres of Excellence offers a suite of programs that mobilize Canada’s best research, development and entrepreneurial expertise and focus it on specific issues and strategic areas.

Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED)

Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) is a Federal tax incentive program, administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), which encourages Canadian businesses to conduct research and development (R&D) in Canada.

The Canadian International Innovation Program (CIIP)

The Canadian International Innovation Program (CIIP) fosters and supports collaborative industrial R&D projects with high potential for commercialization between Canada and partner countries. It also stimulates bilateral science and technology networking and matchmaking activities to further new partnerships and accelerate the commercialization of R&D.

Regional Development Agencies

Regional Economic Growth through Innovation (REGI)

REGI is a national program delivered by Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) across Canada to fuel economic growth through innovation and create more well-paying jobs for Canadians. It comprises two streams, which, along with tailored programming in each region, will foster the right environment to start and grow businesses and create the conditions for the development of strong, dynamic, and inclusive regional innovation ecosystems across the country. Under REGI, innovation funding programs across all of Canada’s seven RDAs will focus on two key areas: business scale-up and productivity and regional innovation ecosystems.

Canadian Economic Development Agency for the regions of Quebec

The Canadian Economic Development Agency for the regions of Quebec provides information, support, and advice to small businesses and not-for-profit organizations to access funds refundable and non-refundable and to meet their specific needs to facilitate the achievement of their projects.

Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor)

The Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor) supports the growth and expansion of northern businesses, including SMEs, through training, advisory services, and through dynamic and flexible contribution programs for businesses and communities that build capacity.

Federal Development Agency for Southern Ontario

The programs of the Federal Development Agency for Southern Ontario support Ontario’s economic and community development, innovation, and economic diversification, with contributions to communities and businesses. FedDev supports workers, communities, and businesses in Southern Ontario to position themselves to compete globally.

FedNor

FedNor supports projects that strengthen community economic development, enhance business growth and facilitate innovation throughout the region.

Western Economic Diversification Canada

Western Economic Diversification Canada offers grants and contributions that support a wide range of programs responding to Western Canada’s economic development needs and priorities.

Other Support and Initiatives

Nova Scotia

Innovacorp is a Nova Scotia crown corporation managing an early-stage venture capital fund.

Nova Scotia Business Inc. is the private-sector led business development agency of Nova Scotia, Canada.

British Columbia

BCIC encourages the development and application of advanced or innovative technologies to meet the needs of industry in BC. We accelerate technology commercialization by supporting start-ups and developing entrepreneurs.

New Brunswick

Opportunities New Brunswick is accelerating growth by attracting global business, strengthening exports, and empowering local companies and entrepreneurs.

New Brunswick Innovation Foundation is an independent non-profit corporation that specializes in venture capital and research investments. Dedicated to building innovation in our province, they deliver the resources and expertise required to achieve new opportunities, growth, and advancements in New Brunswick.

Quebec

The Quebec Economic Development Program helps support entrepreneurship, business performance, regional mobilization and investment in the regions while providing support for economic activity in Quebec communities on an ad hoc basis to stabilize or strengthen their economies.

Newfoundland and Labrador

The Investment Attraction Fund is designed to attract large-scale businesses and foreign direct investment to the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It provides customized financial assistance to inward investors in support of establishing a business in the province or expanding a business as a result of FDI.

The Economic Diversification and Growth Enterprises (EDGE) Program provides incentives to encourage significant new business investment in the province to help diversify the economy and stimulate new private sector job creation, particularly in rural areas.

The Regional Development Program provides support by way of non-repayable contributions to organizations for the development and implementation of economic initiatives with respect to regional and sectoral development, diversification, innovation, and key emerging sectors.

The Business Investment Program provides term loans and equity investments to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in strategic growth sectors as identified by TCII. The fund is also available to businesses which have export potential and require assistance to enter or expand in external markets.

The Business Development Support Program assists Newfoundland and Labrador SMEs with opportunities to increase their productivity and improve their competitiveness. The program supports SMEs who demonstrate a desire to develop and grow by improving the operations of the business, investing in its people, and focusing on trade opportunities.

Europe

Tenders (public procurement), all calls for tenders (EU institutions and Member States administrations) are published daily on the TED portal.

European Union Agency for the Space Program (EUSPA)

myEUspace Competition: the objective of the competition is to support the development of innovative commercial solutions – such as mobile apps or hardware-based solutions for example wearables, asset management and tracking solutions, robotics etc. – that are leveraging EU Space data from Galileo and/or Copernicus.

Cassini Maritime Prize: to tackle the global plastic pollution crisis, the European Commission launched the CASSINI Prize for digital space applications aiming at developing space solutions to track and remove marine plastic pollution.

EUSPA regularly organises hackathons on different topics to generate high-value actionable business ideas and product concepts. Currently EUSPA is organising the Cassini Hackathons that take place twice per year in ten different locations across Europe.

EUSPA Space Academy is an online free training programme open to entrepreneurs and start-ups seeking to unlock their business potential and commercialise their ideas. The curriculum covers seven topics necessary for a start-up to succeed. These are EU space data and signals, team and resources, customer and sales, product, business, finance, and legal matters. Additionally, experts from academia and business are available for office hours, workshops, and mentoring sessions.

Investor events & matchmaking: in recent years, EUSPA has been able to build a large network of startups and Venture Capitalists involved in the development of innovative solutions. Some of these technological startups are looking for funding to help them evolve through their lifecycle. In this regard, EUSPA organises and supports, in cooperation with CASSINI programmme, regular events to connect startups with investors willing to provide financial support.

European Space Agency (ESA)

ESA Business Incubation Centres (ESA BICs) are the largest network of incubators supporting space related start-ups in Europe. The objective is to support entrepreneurs with a space-based business idea and help them developing their product while getting their company off the ground.

Other European Resources

COST is a means for European researchers, engineers and scholars to jointly develop their own ideas and new initiatives across all fields of science and technology through trans-European networking of nationally funded research activities.

CASSINI Matchmaking connects startups, scaleups and SMEs with corporates and investors around four main thematic topics, to solve their business challenges and address global needs.

EU grants, delivered within the framework of multiannual funding programmes managed by the European Commission to support transnational projects. Main characteristics of these projects are the innovation of state of the art, the non-profit rule and the presence of a partnership between actors from several EU Member States.

European Angels Fund (EAF) The European Angels Fund (EAF) is an initiative advised by the EIF, which provides equity to Business Angels and other non-institutional investors for the financing of innovative companies in the form of co-investments.

European Innovation Council (EIC): The European Innovation Council (EIC) is Europe’s flagship innovation programme to identify, develop and scale up breakthrough technologies. It is part of Horizon Europe, the EU’s key funding programme for research and innovation, and is closely coordinated with the Cassini programme. The EIC supports game-changing innovations throughout the lifecycle from early stage research, to proof of concept, technology transfer, and the financing and scale up of start-ups and SMEs.

Eurostars is a European Joint Programme dedicated to the R&D performing SMEs. It is co-funded by the European Communities and 33 EUREKA member countries. Eurostars aims to stimulate research-performing SMEs to lead international collaborative research and innovation projects by easing access to support and funding. It is fine-tuned to focus on the needs of SMEs, and specifically targets the development of new products, processes and services and the access to transnational and international markets.

Loans from the European Investment Bank, delivered to investments of high European interest in several areas. Various finance facilities are available for SMEs, especially for R&D, risk capitals, guarantees. Most of the funds are accessible through local intermediary banks appointed by the EIB.

The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) supports trans-European networks and infrastructures in the sectors of transport, telecommunications and energy.