NATO’s first equity deal backs UK startups Fractile, Space Forge

NATO’s first equity deal backs UK startups Fractile, Space Forge

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

A billion euro NATO Innovation Fund has backed four deeptech starts in Europe with long term equity investments.

The €1bn Innovation Fund from defence alliance NATO will help advance innovation in novel materials and manufacturing through Space Forge in Wales and a chip design to accelerate AI from Fractile in London.

The backing comes from 24 NATO countries to fund energy, quantum computing, artificial intelligence, autonomy, novel materials, space, biotechnology, hypersonic systems and next-generation communications over 15 years.

NIF is also using Alpine Space Ventures, OTB Ventures, Join Capital and Vsquared Ventures to support early-stage deeptech startups across Europe.

Fractile is in stealth mode developing hardware to accelerate the use of transformer models that are memory bound in generative AI Large Language Models (LLMs)

Space Forge is developing automated factories that operate in orbit to produce higher quality materials. It has a strategic partnership with Northrup Grumman and is planning to put a reusable satellite into orbit with Australian firm Southern Launch after its first satellite was lost on the failed Virgin Space mission last year.

Space factory for power wafers

ARX Robotics is a manufacturer of scalable robotic systems for mass deployment in defence and commercial applications, while iCOMAT in Bristol is a composite manufacturing company that delivers lighter, stronger and more sustainable structures for aerospace and automotive.

“Enabling capital and support for strategic technologies is key to securing a safe and prosperous future for the Alliance’s 1 billion citizens. Today, we are proud to share that we have invested in innovative solutions that can help address some of our greatest challenges and boost growth, strengthening the defence, security, and resilience of our nations for generations to come.”

“This is a tremendous milestone for the NATO Innovation Fund” said David van Weel, Assistant Secretary General for Innovation, Hybrid and Cyber. “With these investments, the Fund is now starting to make a tangible difference in our innovation ecosystems, providing growth opportunities to the most promising dual-use and defence companies developing solutions to maintain the Alliance’s technological edge”.

“The NATO Innovation Fund’s support for Space Forge’s ambition is a testament to what we’re building. Occupying the domains of semiconductor manufacturing and spacecraft production is complex. This investment enables Space Forge to develop the production class version of its ForgeStar architecture and provide a critical advantage in key technologies with its advanced semiconductor materials. It is a privilege to serve the NATO Alliance.” 

The NIF is also backing venture capital fund managers that invest in early-stage deep tech working on space tech to quantum cryptography and AI.

“Europe’s deeptech sector, powered by a rich talent pool, is poised to tackle global challenges through advanced technologies. Investing in deeptech requires time and skills but brings tremendous opportunities. The founding of the NATO Innovation Fund (NIF) underscores the vital role of these investments and brings the know-how to take them to new markets and use cases,” said Adam Niewinski, co-founder and Managing Partner, OTB Ventures


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