Audacia and Starburst announce the launch of Expansion, a new investment fund dedicated to aeronautics, space and defense start-ups

On Tuesday April 12, Charles Beigbeder, founding CEO of the asset management company Audacia, and François Chopard, founding CEO of the accelerator specialized in aeronautics Starburst, announced the launch of Expansion, a new Venture Capital intended to finance French and European start-ups in the Aeronautics, Space and Defense (ASD) field, which should reach 300 million euros in the long term.

Starburst, aeronautical, space and defense accelerator

Created in 2012 by François Chopard, Starburst is a strategy and innovation consulting firm. This first global accelerator of aerospace and defense start-ups has offices in the main global innovation hubs of the ASD sector (Los Angeles, Paris, Montreal, Munich, Madrid, Singapore, Abu Dhabi, Seoul and Mumbai). The team has built an ecosystem of key players in the aerospace and defense industry with more than 8,000 startups in its network and public and private partners. Starburst works with large groups such as Airbus, Boeing, NASA, CNES, Thales… and also investment funds.

In Europe, Starburst is led by its co-founder Sandra Budimir and has more than 30 startups in its acceleration program, including around 20 in the BLAST program.


Created in 2006 by Charles Beigbeder, Audacia is an independent management company that provides equity and debt support for entrepreneurial projects. It has invested more than €750 million on behalf of private investors, family offices and institutions in 350 companies and has developed three investment businesses:

  • Development Capital in fast-growing SMEs;
  • Real Estate Capital, focused on Coliving, modern colocation;
  • Capital Innovation including the Quantonation fund, the first global fund dedicated to quantum technologies and the Geodesic fund, dedicated to NewSpace.

The Expansion Fund

This fund plans to initially raise 100 million euros by the end of 2022 and aims to become the main European private fund dedicated to the ASD sector in order to ” support and finance French and European start-ups” from the seed phase to series B, which should allow young companies to take off.

The fund aims to be the link between public funding, industrial activities and entrepreneurial projects which, according to the two companies, is currently lacking in France and Europe.

Investments will focus on:

  • micro-launchers and constellations of satellites;
  • space data exploitation and in-orbit services;
  • low-carbon aviation;
  • new urban and regional air mobility platforms;
  • dual technologies with strategic applications for Defence;
  • all the disruptive enabling technologies that fuel innovation in these sectors (new sensors, new materials, innovative equipment, artificial intelligence, etc.).

The management of Expansion will be entrusted to Sandra Budimir, co-founder of Starburst, and Pierre-François Vilgrain, former executive at ArianeGroup and Airbus Defense & Space.

Dirk Hoke, former CEO of Airbus and Space, future CEO of Volocopter, and Emmanuel Chiva, director of the Defense Innovation Agency of the French Ministry of the Armed Forces will bring their expertise and will be part of the strategic committee.

Dirk Hoke also said:

“The future of our planet will be played out in space and Europe must resume a leading role. It is time for Europe to wake up and accelerate again in space exploration, telecommunications, observation and related technologies like AI, cloud and edge computing. The EXPANSION fund will play an important role in helping European innovators to grow in Europe. »

Support French and European strategic sovereignty

According to the two companies, Expansion will come “ supplement the public efforts currently implemented in France and in Europe to support ASD innovation from start-ups”.

Several European initiatives such as the France 2030 Plan aim to install European sovereignty and to “ building the technological players of tomorrow” especially in the field of space.

Emmanuel Chiva, director of the Defense Innovation Agency of the Ministry of the Armed Forces, says:

“There are races that you can’t afford to lose. The Expansion fund will be strategic for France and Europe to play their full role in space innovation, so essential to our strategic autonomy and for our response to the challenges of tomorrow. »

Charles Beigbeder, president and founder of Audacia, confirms:

“The conquest of space is entering its second phase: that of entrepreneurs! Telecommunications, geolocation, observation, industrialization in micro-gravity, so many areas accelerated by New Space and its startups. The EXPANSION fund will support this revolution which will contribute to the essential reconquest of our European sovereignty. »

François Chopard, founder and CEO of Starburst, concludes:

“Since its creation, Starburst has endeavored to build the missing bridges between the entrepreneurial actors of research and innovation with the companies and public organizations which act for the future. Beyond our particular attachment to Europe, acting to help France and the countries of the Union to catch up was a necessity. We are pleased to take this new step in financing innovation in the Aeronautics, Space and Defense sector alongside Audacia and a leading strategic board. »

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Audacia and Starburst announce the launch of Expansion, a new investment fund dedicated to aeronautics, space and defense start-ups

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