Gold Coast tech giant Gilmour Space raises Series D at $605m valuation

Gold Coast tech giant Gilmour Space raises Series D at $605m valuation

Gilmour Space co-founder and CEO Adam Gilmour with the Eris orbital rocket.

As Gilmour Space awaits Australian Space Agency (ASA) approval to launch the nation's first-ever locally made rocket into space from a site in Bowen, the Gold Coast-based tech giant founded by brothers Adam and James Gilmour has successfully raised $55 million in a Series D round led by the Queensland Investment Corporation (QIC).

The news follows a flurry of announcements from QIC surrounding VCs and accelerators to be supported by the $130 million Queensland Venture Capital Development Fund (QVCDF). 

The latest round, which included participation Blackbird, Main Sequence and Australian superannuation funds HostPlus and HESTA, will provide the capital needed to manufacture, test and launch Gilmour's sovereign-made Eris rockets and satellites to orbit. 

By the end of FY23 the company had more than 200 people employed, and with the latest investment the company is expected to lift its total headcount to more than 300 by mid-2027.

The group is currently building a diversified space services platform, including rocket and satellite production, and launch services from its exclusive Bowen Orbital Spaceport in North Queensland. It had previously aimed to launch by December 2023, but with delays in approvals the expectation is now that this won't occur until at least April 2024.

Co-founder and CEO Adam Gilmour says the firepower brought by committed shareholders will ensure the business can meet its milestones over the medium term and leverage more immediate opportunities in Australia and abroad.

"Our team is fortunate to be backed by high-calibre investors whose unwavering support has led to the development of Australia’s first orbital rocket, built by an Australian-owned company, and supported by a local space supply chain," he says.

"This investment will allow us to enhance Australia’s sovereign space and defence capabilities, onshore more manufacturing, and to hire and upskill even more Queenslanders. 

"Our vision is for rockets made and launched in Queensland, carrying satellites and other payloads to space for our global customers, and we’re incredibly grateful for the support of QIC in helping us realise that vision."

It has now been more than a decade since the brothers founded the company in 2013.

"As the largest sovereign space manufacturer, we are helping to build new space supply chains by actively working with Australian researchers and companies to supply and co-develop launch-related components and systems, providing valuable opportunities to advance their Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) for the global space market, and qualify their tech and products in space," says James Gilmour, co-founder and director, who won the Gold Coast Young Entrepreneur Award - Technology for the last four years running.

"Our company continues to champion the growth of a sustainable and commercial space industry with the federal and state governments, Australian Space Agency (ASA), Defence, and other space industry players. We engage actively with schools, universities and the public on space and STEM."

QIC private equity investment director Patrick Christiansen says Gilmour’s ability to compete as a full-stack launch services provider will be a strong value proposition for an underserviced segment of the global space market.

"Growing sovereign capabilities in Australian aerospace is often talked about, but it’s Adam and his team knuckling down and making it happen,” Christiansen says. 

“Never has an Australian-made, Australian-owned rocket launched into orbit, and we join the nation in eager anticipation as all eyes turn to Bowen for history to be written.”

Blackbird co-founding partner Rick Baker says when the fund first invested in Gilmour, the team had just produced a 10-centimetre diameter hybrid rocket engine.

"It was a cute little thing that produced a fierce little flame, but the ambition of Adam and the team to build a full-scale rocket was clear," he says.

"The achievements of the team in taking that technology through years of testing and iteration are coming to a head now. 

"This funding round will allow Gilmour to attempt multiple launches and to become the first Australian-built rocket to get to orbit. We're so excited to be on the journey with the Gilmour team."

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