Following a burst of space capital, 2021 saw the highest private investments in space to date, which were enabled by innovative investment vehicles such as SPACs, the creation of robust space-related funds and the convergence of governmental agencies and private companies.

In Europe, the EU Space Programme Regulation (Regulation 2021/696, of 28 April 2021, which establishes the Union Space Programme and the European Union Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA)) was published, allocating EUR 14,880 billion to the EU space programme for the period 2021-2027, with all space programme components (Galileo, EGNOS, Copernicus, SSA and the new GovSatCom) now regulated in a single legal instrument. In addition, a series of calls on Space Research under Horizon Europe funding program were published, for, among others, satellite communications, Earth observation, on-orbit operations, access to space, quantum technologies and space science and exploration technologies.

Additionally, the EU and ESA signed a new Financial Framework Partnership Agreement  which represented an EU commitment in space of approximately EUR 9 billion.

The EU further continued to adopt measures to facilitate access to finance and promote private investment. The start of the Cassini Space Investment Fund was signed on 25 January 2022 with the European Investment Bank, to deploy an investment capacity of at least EUR 1 billion in support of space start-ups. And a four-partite agreement between the European Commission, ESA, EUSPA and the European Investment Fund was also signed on 25 January 2022 aimed at stimulating private investment in space and easing access to private capital.

In Africa, governmental space budgets for 2021 reached an amount of USD 548.6 million, a 9% increase from 2020, with large investments being made in the development of satellites – more than 100 satellites are under development by at least 20 countries, which are expected to be launched until 2025. And a growing number of countries is also developing space programmes and agencies, with, for instance, Cabo Verde being expected to publish its national space strategy in 2022 (which was publicly presented and discussed in 2021), Angola to launch AngoSat2 in 2022, and Mozambique announcing in 2021 the set-up of a space agency at the Europe-Africa Space Earth Observation High-Level Forum.

Such increase in space investment is also visible in Portugal. Among other relevant initiatives, Portugal launched agendas for business innovation under its Recovery and Resilience Plan, in which 64 innovative projects were selected to receive financial investment and support, including a EUR 260 million investment led by GeoSat for an Atlantic Earth Observation constellation, data platform and services, and a EUR 26 million investment led by Neuraspace to apply AI and ML solutions for space debris mitigation by using satellite collision avoidance systems. The Portuguese approach follows the trend of other EU countries, which included Space as part of their national recovery and resilience plans in the context of the Next Generation EU.

Another relevant initiative is the Europe Startup Nations Alliance, established by the Portuguese government with support from the European Commission and aimed at supporting national governments in improving the structural conditions for startups.