Space Force wants to know how venture capitalists rate startups

With the space sector attracting so many new companies, it can be difficult for the government to assess the qualifications of startups bidding for SBIR contracts

WASHINGTON – A just-announced deal between the US Space Force and a venture capital firm is a pilot project to help government buyers understand how investors rate startups in the space industry.

The Space Force would like to better understand how venture capitalists assess the potential of technologies developed by commercial companies, said Gabe Mounce, deputy director of SpaceWERX.

SpaceWERX is a new organization within the Space Force Space Systems Command. It is inspired by the Air Force’s AFWERX technology incubator, established in 2017 to attract small businesses and entrepreneurs in the space industry to work with government.

Embedded Ventures, a new venture capital firm focused on space startups, is the first to sign a cooperation agreement with SpaceWERX.

At a virtual event on October 14, Mounce said the idea was to create a mechanism for SpaceWERX and venture capitalists to exchange information.

“For us as a government it’s about exploring the perspectives that members of the venture capital community use when evaluating private sector companies, when it comes to technology maturation, to team building, team dynamics and those kinds of considerations, ”he said. said, “while allowing those people who sign these agreements with us to understand what maybe our needs are, which we are exploring in the private sector.” “

“We were able to sort of codify that in this agreement with Embedded Ventures,” which is intended to be a pilot study, he said.

SpaceWERX and AFWERX Obtain Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Funding. They evaluate companies’ proposals and award study and prototype contracts.

With the space sector attracting so many new companies, it can be difficult for the government to assess the qualifications of startups bidding for SBIR contracts, Mounce said. This is where the advice of the venture capital community would come in handy, he added.

For years, AFWERX has forged relationships with venture capital firms and regularly invites investors to host events where startups compete for prizes, “but it has been more informal, sort of on an ad hoc basis.” , Mounce said.

Other deals could be made with other venture capital firms, he said. “Our intention is to continue to create these cooperation agreements. There are other venture capital firms that might be interested.

SpaceWERX is also considering a “consortium model” that would allow more companies to be involved, Mounce said. “We are still working, no guarantee at the moment. It is something that we are exploring.

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