Date
25 April 2018
Japan has launched a US$940 million fund to promote the development of startup businesses involved in space-related projects. Photo: Reuters
Japan has launched a US$940 million fund to promote the development of startup businesses involved in space-related projects. Photo: Reuters

Japan to push space startup development with US$940 mln fund

The Japanese government announced on Tuesday that it will promote space-related startups in the country by offering them monetary assistance via a 100 billion yen (around US$940 million) fund.

The financial aid to the startups will be available over a five-year period, beginning from the fiscal year 2018. The funding will be undertaken as investments and loans.

Eligible startups will receive up to 10 million yen each to cover the costs including research and patent applications, the Nikkei Asian Review reported.

Startups that demonstrate promise of launching products or services to market will be introduced to investors and venture capitalists.

Those at the development stage will be able to obtain from the pool of 100 billion yen offered by relevant bodies such as Development Bank of Japan and public-private investment fund Innovation Network Corp. of Japan.

Space startups generally are short of experience. Given this, an agency will be established to link up startups lacking professional talent with veteran rocket scientists and systems operators such as the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

The government will also consider making laws and formulating policies, similar to the laws passed in the United States and Luxembourg, to allow companies to own plots of land they develop on the moon.

Japan has been fueling development of space startups in recent years. The startups include Tokyo’s Ispace, a startup focusing on lunar exploration; and Astroscale, a Singapore-based and Japan-linked space debris cleaning company; and Fukuoka-based miniature-satellite developer iQPS.

Ispace is stepping beyond the Lunar XPRIZE competition, supported by Google, to fund two exploration missions to the moon, one by the end of 2019 and the other by the end of 2020.

The setting up of the new government fund will be “remembered as a turning point” for the burgeoning industry, CNBC quoted Ispace CEO and founder Takeshi Hakamada as saying.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on March 22

Translation by Jonathan Chong with additional reporting

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Hong Kong Economic Journal

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