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IENAI Space bags €3.9M for propulsion tech in small satellites

IENAI Space founder
Picture credits: IENAI Space

Spanish spacetech startup IENAI Space has raised €3.9 million in the latest funding round. With this round, the total funding raised by the company accounts for €7 million. Spanish investors, including Inveready, WA4STEAM, DPM, and CDTI, a government-backed investor that matches private investment. GED Conexo led the round.

This investment is in line with the recent investments in the industry such as Open Cosmos’ €60M round and Xona Space’s $19 million round.

Funds utilisation

The company will use the investment to accelerate reaching the commercial production stage of its propulsion system, expand its client base for its software tools, and open new facilities to accommodate its growing team.

IENAI also plans to hire additional staff aiming to bring its 22 employees to 30 people this year, filling roles across all departments. To further advance its science and technology development, two new PhDs will also join a current total of seven PhD candidates, supervised by six PhD full-time staff.

Furthermore, the company plans to expand its current manufacturing and testing facilities across Europe, with clean-room facilities already located in Madrid and Barcelona (Spain) and Uppsala (Sweden), as a result of agreements with CNM-CSIC (Instituto de Microelectrónica de Barcelona) and Uppsala University.

What does IENAI do?

Founded by Daniel Perez Grande, Sara Correyero Plaza, and Mick Wijnen, IENAI Space works with the mission to change the way the onboard electric propulsion market operates. Its goal is to remove entry barriers for the adoption of electric propulsion technologies in the smallest of satellites, providing platform manufacturers and integrators with the tools necessary to understand their propulsion requirements, and the best possible hardware to address them.

IENAI’s plans ahead

IENAI Space’s electric propulsion system ATHENA, an adaptable thruster based on electrospray powered by nanotechnology is a 0.5U thruster built for satellites between 3kg and 50kg, fired for almost 400 hours. This constitutes the longest firing (independently verified by ESA) of an ionic-liquid electrospray thruster in Europe. The firing test was part of a successful preliminary design review (PDR) with ESA.

ATHENAS’s solid performances were rounded up with received RFQs (request for quotation), worth a total value of €30 million, from renowned European satellite manufacturers. The company expects to start commercial delivery of its thruster by early 2025.

In addition, the beta test of their space mobility and mission analysis and design software tool “360”, for which they had around 30 companies join. The company is now onboarding startups from various incubation and acceleration programs across Europe as part of their “IRIS program”, in partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS).

The company’s next step on the road to commercial production is an in-orbit demonstration of their ATHENA propulsion system aboard the Cassini in-orbit demonstration (IOD) and in-orbit verification (IOV) mission, developed under the European Space Agency, with ISISPACE. 

Dr. Daniel Pérez Grande, CEO and co-founder of IENAI Space, said: “The funding result is a fantastic achievement and a testament to the amazing efforts made by our team every single day. It allows us to consolidate the next steps towards commercialisation of our core products, which in turn enables us to substantially grow the business. We really can’t wait for our clients to get their hands on ATHENA, our electric propulsion system. It will offer them world-class efficiency, compactness, and customisation options to cater for a wide range of space missions.” 

“We’re also very excited for the future of IENAI. In 2024 and 2025 we are expecting to kick-start a number of key collaborations with established players in the market, make progress on our current ESA projects. We’ll also keep maturing and validating our propulsion technologies, and we’ll be starting the development of more novel products for the space mobility market,” he added. 

What do we think about IENAI Space?

IENAI Space is rapidly establishing itself as a key player in the spacetech industry with its innovative electric propulsion systems. Securing €7 million in funding underscores investors’ confidence in its technology. With ATHENA’s promising performance and strategic expansions planned, the company is well-positioned to transform onboard propulsion for small satellites, enhancing efficiency and accessibility in space missions.

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