Europe’s losing the race to space and needs to unlock private investment and leverage its space legacy and technology leadership. This is according to a new report presented this week by European Investment Bank Vice-President Ambroise Fayolle and Europe’s Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs Elżbieta Bieńkowska.

The two presented their report, titled “The future of the European space sector” at the 11th Conference on European Space Policy.

The report was produced by the joint European Commission and European Investment Bank initiatives InnovFin Advisory and European Investment Advisory Hub, established under Horizon 2020 and the Investment Plan for Europe respectively. It assesses the current investment landscape in the space industry, identifies gaps in financing and proposes key recommendations and solutions to improve the existing conditions.

“The EIB’s latest report on financing advances in technologies highlights the disruptive forces transforming the space sector that are challenging old and new players alike. It gives a clear roadmap on how we can leverage our current public financial support schemes at national and EU levels to crowd in the much needed private capital,” said EIB Vice-President Ambroise Fayolle, responsible for innovation.

In turn, Bieńkowska said that access to finance remains a significant hurdle to unleashing the potential of European space entrepreneurship within and outside Europe.

“In the 2016 Space Strategy for Europe the Commission therefore set out financing as a strategic area,” she said. “And indeed we gave financing particular attention in the EU Space Programme for the next budget period from 2021 to 2027. The EU Space Programme in synergy with Horizon Europe and InvestEU will pave the way toward a coherent and integrated suite of dedicated funding instruments for space companies in Europe.”

According to the commissioner, the insights of the new report will help the EU to design and roll-out smart financing to stimulate more investments for space.

The report recommends strengthening the space ecosystem in Europe by making public support more flexible and better oriented towards commercialisation. Another recommendation is to set up a “finance for space” forum with representatives from the finance community, academia, policymakers and industry to develop innovative financing solutions, as the space sector lacks knowledge about finance and finance lacks knowledge about space.