Stellenbosch University
Welcome to Stellenbosch University
Innovus spinout CubeSpace secures R47m VC funding for global expansion
Author: Petro Mostert
Published: 07/03/2024

Stellenbosch University and Innovus spinout company CubeSpace, a leading satellite component manufacturer, has secured R47m venture capital funding to fuel its global expansion.

After establishing itself as a leader in the CubeSat market, the company is leveraging its considerable experience and research and development capabilities to transform the broader satellite industry.

The strategic shift is backed by an impressive 50 percent annual growth over the last four years, with the recent venture capital funding, led by the University Technology Fund (UTF) and co-investor Savant Venture Fund, to support expansive growth.

Renowned for successfully controlling over 300 satellites and endorsed by NASA, the company aims to strengthen its foothold in the US and European markets, enhancing support for its robust client base worldwide.

“Gone are the times when satellite manufacturing is reserved for governments of large first-world countries. We have developed a modular and low-cost control system capable of controlling any size satellite, which will help researchers, private companies, and governments globally build satellites a lot quicker, with smaller teams, and at much lower cost," says CubeSpace CEO Mike-Alec Kearney.

The company has already secured its first six contracts for microsatellites, with the largest contract being for a 400kg earth observation satellite destined for Very Low Earth Orbit at 200 km. This achievement underscores its strong position in the international satellite industry and demonstrates the industry's trust in the company's capabilities.

“With the new investment, we're expanding our capabilities to control satellites up to one ton through our revolutionary new range of large reaction wheels. These wheels will all include our high-efficiency precision electrical motor which was developed in-house and will address an urgent need in the satellite constellation market for high-performance, low-cost reaction wheels that can be delivered in high volumes for demanding schedules," explains Kearney.

The control systems play a crucial role in the operation of satellites by ensuring precision pointing and stability, enabling seamless operation of optical payloads and antennas. This expertise is highlighted by CubeSpace's inclusion in NASA's State-of-the-Art Small Spacecraft Technology report.

The company has played a significant role in groundbreaking missions, including the development of the control systems for the UAE Lunar rover, and is currently in the process of building control systems for three more lunar rovers, which will contribute to the colonisation of the moon and Mars.

Through enabling their customers to build world-class satellites, the company actively contributes to initiatives aimed at improving conditions on Earth, including projects related to the removal of space debris, smart agriculture, global internet access, and the monitoring of climate, weather patterns, and maritime activities.

“CubeSpace embodies the University Technology Fund's vision to invest in South African university technology with global potential. This is the fund's largest investment to date, reflecting our confidence in the company. Their outstanding performance in a promising sector has us excited to support their ambitious goals. We're thrilled to fuel their journey!" says UTF CEO Wayne Stocks.

“The investment in CubeSpace is a great case study demonstrating that local university technology is an overlooked but very promising asset class.  This is also supported by the fast growth in the Stellenbosch University group of companies which currently boasts nearly 30 spinout companies," explains Anita Nel, Chief Director of Innovation and Commercialisation of Stellenbosch University and CEO of US Enterprises.

About CubeSpace:

An innovator in the international space industry and a spinout company of Stellenbosch University, CubeSpace specialises in turn-key ADCS solutions for over 150 global clients. Celebrating South African intellectual property and expertise, CubeSpace manufactures state-of-the-art space control systems, partnering with major space agencies like NASA, ESA, and others.