SG spacetech firm Aliena raises $1.1m in 500 Startups-backed round

Mark Lim (second from left), co-founder and CEO of Singapore spacetech startup Aliena, announces the funding in a speech at the Australian High Commission.

Singapore-based space technology startup Aliena has raised S$1.5 million ($1.1 million) in a funding round backed by Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm 500 Startups.

Mark Lim, co-founder and CEO of Aliena, told DealStreetAsia that the funding round was led by Cap Vista Private Ltd, the strategic venture investment arm of Singapore’s Defense Science and Technology Agency. Paspalis Innovation and Investment Fund also participated.

Aliena designs low power propulsion systems for satellites to perform advanced manoeuvres in space. This allows for more complex operations to be performed onboard smaller satellites, Lim said.

“This is seen as a highly disruptive technological enabler for miniature platforms in space – allowing for more agility in operations and extended operational lifetime of the satellites in space,” he added.

The technology also allows for a mechanism for satellites to de-orbit at the end of their operational lifecycle to reduce the clutter in space due to space debris.

The capital from this round of investment will allow for the team to expand operations in terms of manpower and to commission an integrated space simulation environment and electric jet propulsion test facility in Singapore.

“Additionally, this round of investment will aid the in-orbit technological demonstration of our products in space, and allow for expansion of our current product line accordingly,” Lim said.

The technical demonstration of Aliena’s proprietary plasma rockets is set to take place at the end of 2020. It will be deployed out of a SpaceX launch.

Apart from the plasma rockets that Aliena is developing, the startup also aims to “champion, bridge, and foster strategic ties” within the space industry ecosystem that would allow for the establishment of a regional spaceport.

Lim said this can be done through bringing together and harnessing strengths coming from infrastructure, talent, and industry support from both Singapore and Australia’s Northern Territory.

Aliena and Northern Territory have formed a partnership to build a platform for collaboration that cuts across academia and industry and finds alignment in the systems that can be miniaturized and deployed to enhance operations onboard satellites in space.

“Aliena will continue to work hard in our endeavours to develop and qualify our current and emerging product line to serve as technological enablers to unlock new missions in space,” said Lim, who is also a lead scientist at Nanyang Technological University.

The funding comes more than a year after another space technology startup based in Singapore raised funding. DealStreetAsia reported in September 2018 that Transcelestial raised $1.83 million in seed funding in a round co-led by Wavemaker Partners and SEED Capital.

Transcelestial is working to build the world’s first space laser network to deliver commercial high-speed internet. The technology involves wireless laser communication and nano-satellites and targets over 4 billion people globally who have no access to the Internet.

The company aims to replace existing wireless technology, which is currently dependent on fibre optic cables. It said that about 95 per cent of the world’s internet needs are currently served by undersea cable infrastructure built in the 1990s and 2000s.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.