Leveraging its technological and commercial expertise in bringing innovative photonics products to market, Cailabs announced a €26 million funding round to support the rapid expansion of the company’s laser communications and optical ground station business.
The funding round was led by Luxembourg-based growth stage investor NewSpace Capital with the support of existing investors: Definvest (specialized equity fund of the French Ministry of the Armed Forces, managed by Bpifrance in consultation with the French Defense Procurement Agency), Starquest, Innovacom, Safran Corporate Venture and Crédit Agricole Ille et Vilaine Expansion. Cailabs has also been selected to receive support from the European Innovation Council (EIC) fund for innovative deep tech companies.
The space sector is currently undergoing a real revolution, with the number of satellites in orbit expected to exceed 100,000 by 2030. Consequently, laser communications are set to grow exponentially to avoid the growing congestion of radio frequencies. Cailabs’ innovative optical ground station design, built on the expertise gained from the development of previous product lines and the unique capability to compensate for atmospheric turbulence, will make it possible to make those connections reliably and affordably.
Founded in 2013 in France, Cailabs’ original field of expertise was long distance telecommunication, leading to the 2017 world record for transmission capacity through a single optical fiber with the Japanese operator KDDI. The company has turned this record-breaking technology into a product for local networks, upgrading more than five thousand links around the world in hospitals, universities and factories, and has expanded its product mix further with innovative laser-based material processing solutions. All of these successes are based on Cailabs’ unique optical core technologies and its strong team, which are now focused on delivering ground-breaking solutions to the challenges of laser communication through the atmosphere.
“We are pleased to welcome NewSpace Capital to Cailabs. With their support and the continued backing of our longstanding partners, we will become the market leader in optical ground stations and be able to extend our offer to naval, aeronautical (aircraft, UAV) and land links.” said Jean-François Morizur, co-founder and CEO of Cailabs.
“NewSpace Capital is focused on growth stage companies leading innovation in the space ecosystem. In this respect, optical communication is a key area of focus, and Cailabs is one of the most exciting companies in the industry. Several factors prompted us to lead this funding round: a truly stellar team, the company’s ability to master its unique technology, multiple use cases in the photonics industry and beyond, proven track record to transform technology into commercial products, and therefore, a clear pathway of becoming a market leader in the coming years” saidBogdan Gogulan, CEO & Managing Partner of NewSpace Capital.
“Through its numerous technological successes, Cailabs has demonstrated its expertise in light shaping and its ability to diversify its application markets. Committed to supporting companies in the defense industry, the French Ministry of the Armed Forces and the French Directorate General of Armament (DGA) strongly support this new funding round, which will enable Cailabs to achieve its development goals,” said Emmanuel Chiva, Head of the DGA.
“This new round of funding underlines the major progress made by Cailabs, a very promising NewSpace player in the field of optical communications, supported by Bpifrance and the French Ministry of the Armed Forces, with the objective of becoming a world leader.” said Nicolas Berdou, Investor for the Definvest Fund at Bpifrance.
“We have continuously supported Cailabs since 2016, because we identified in the company a very rare combination of unrivaled scientific expertise and strategic vision. No constellation operator in the booming SpaceTech industry will find an alternative to the unique technology proposed by Cailabs. Many applications are clearly connected to environmental protection, which is at the core of our action, such as detecting highly polluting methane emissions, or monitoring the CO2 / O2 balance in forests or the hydric stress of crops.” said Harold Dumeurger, Investment Director at Starquest Capital
“We are very proud of the progress made by Cailabs. The success of the company, which is now one of the most innovative players in the space sector, proves that support for basic research projects can lead to real industrial success. We are very happy to continue to support them in their development,” concluded Frédéric Humbert, Innovacom partner.
The law firms Joffe & Associés (Thomas Saltiel, Camille Malbezin and Carla Ferron) and Forrest Advisers (Ramsey Forrest) accompanied and advised the parties during this operation.
About NewSpace Capital
NewSpace Capital is a global space-focused, growth-stage fund operated by a team that together has more than 150 years of investment, commercial and technical experience in the space and private equity industries. Based in Luxembourg, the fund provides growth capital to companies with a technological edge and leading market position in the supply chain and applications segments of the rapidly developing space ecosystem. To learn more, please visit: www.newspace.capital
About European Innovation Council (EIC)
The European Innovation Council Fund, established by the European Commission, aims to fill a critical financing gap. Its main purpose is to support companies in the development and commercialization of disruptive technologies, bridging with and crowding in market players, and further sharing risk by building a large network of capital providers and strategic partners suitable for co-investments and follow-on funding.
The fund is an agnostic fund: it invests across all technologies and verticals, as well as all EU states and countries associated with Horizon Europe. It provides the investment component of EIC Accelerator blended finance, and pays particular attention to the empowerment and support of female founders, as well as the ambition to reduce the innovation divide among EU countries.
About Bpifrance, DGA and their investment fund Definvest
Bpifrance Investissement is the management company that handles Bpifrance’s equity investments. Bpifrance is a French national investment bank: it finances businesses at every stage of their development through loans, guarantees, equity investments and export insurances. Bpifrance also provides extra financial services (training, consultancy) to help entrepreneurs meet their various challenges (innovation, export, etc.).
The French Defense Procurement Agency (DGA) is an expert testing and engineering arm of the French Ministry of Defense. The DGA’s mission is to equip armies in a sovereign manner, prepare the future of defense systems, promote European cooperation, and support exports. As the State’s largest buyer, in 2021 the DGA placed €23.5 billion of orders with industry and invested €1.404 billion in innovation and defense technology projects. With 18 sites in France, its 10,000 civilian and military men and women (nearly 60% of whom are managers, engineers or experts) and its network of international collaborators, the DGA is involved in all areas of defense (land, naval and air combat, electronic communication and information systems, deterrence, space, cyber security, robotics, etc.).
With €100 million provided by the French Ministry of Defense, Definvest combines the complementary expertise of the French Defense Procurement Agency (DGA) and Bpifrance. As an extension of the SME support mechanisms already deployed by the DGA, the fund aims to take equity stakes in strategic Defense Industrial and Technology Base (DITB) SMEs, alongside financial and industrial investors, to enable them to develop independently.
About Starquest Capital:
Founded in 2008 by Arnaud Delattre and Emmanuel Gaudé, Starquest is a French pioneer in venture capital. Since its creation, Starquest has supported around a hundred innovative companies with a core portfolio that is 70% focused on protecting the planet against global warming and resource depletion, and protecting economic activity against digital pollution (cyber-attacks, brand hijacking, internet hate, etc.).
Its ambition is to finance and support companies that have developed a disruptive technology whose mission is clearly to protect society against the negative externalities associated with progress.
Starquest’s main areas of focus are renewable energy (preferably non-intermittent, storable and profitable without subsidies), energy efficiency, food security, protection of physical and digital assets, circular economy, and the traceability of processes and materials.
A propos d’Innovacom
Innovacom is a French pioneer of innovation capital. Since 1988, it has invested close to €1 billion, supported more than 300 digital and high-tech startups, participated in more than 20 IPOs and completed more than 150 industrial disposals. The team, which benefits from extensive experience in high-tech, has contributed to several recent successes in multiple sectors (telecom, health, mobility, energy, etc.) and has a solid track record including unicorns such as Heptagon and Soitec. Today, Innovacom supports innovative industrial projects and high-potential disruptive technologies by providing funding, advice and support. Its association with the Turenne Group has created one of the leading independent private equity firms in France with a platform of €1.4 billion under management. With offices in Paris and Marseille, Innovacom Gestion is licensed by the Autorité des Marchés Financiers.
About Crédit Agricole Ille et Vilaine Expansion (CA IV Expansion)
Crédit Agricole Ille et Vilaine Expansion is the investment vehicle of the Caisse régionale de Crédit Agricole d’Ille-et-Vilaine, dedicated to supporting the technology development and transfer of the region’s VSEs and SMEs.
Created in 2017 and endowed with €10 million, CA I&V Expansion has a dozen active companies in its portfolio, mainly in the Group’s and the Caisse’s areas of excellence: agri-agro, renewable energy, housing, health & ageing, tourism & the sea.
Alone or in collaboration with Supernova and UNEXO, CA I&V Expansion is committed to supporting the development of the region and its economic players over the long term.
© Text: Cailabs