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Starburst Ventures aims to back startups that can follow in SpaceX’s footsteps. (SpaceX Photo)

On the eve of its first event in Seattle, Starburst Accelerator says it has set up a $200 million venture fund to invest in aviation and aerospace startups over the next three years.

Starburst Venture, formed in collaboration with Singapore-based Leonie Hill Capital, will focus on early and growth-stage companies, with the first investments due to be made in the first quarter of 2017, the fund’s founders said today in a news release.

The investment team will be mainly based in San Francisco, but will also leverage Starburst Accelerator’s existing operations in Los Angeles, Paris, Munich and Singapore.

Starburst Accelerator was founded in 2012 by Francois Chopard, a former Airbus engineer and aerospace strategy consultant. Since then, it has teamed up with more than 100 companies to provide a boost for business development.

“We appreciate the vote of confidence that Leonie Hill Capital, our anchor investor, has placed in Starburst Accelerator, a testament to the immense amount of work and focus that our entire team has contributed to the business over the last few years,” Chopard said today.

Starburst focuses on commercial space ventures as well as aviation frontiers such as flying cars, supersonic jets, electric aircraft and drones. The technologies in Starburst’s portfolio also include artificial intelligence, additive manufacturing, new materials and data analytics.

Starburst gives its startups a showcase at accelerator events, such as the one taking place at Seattle’s Museum of Flight on Wednesday. “We’ve been referred to as a sort of Shark Tank for aerospace,” Starburst co-founder Vandad Espahbodi told Tech in Asia in September.

“The way we’ve set up our model basically incentivizes the industry to say, what is this buzz about Elon Musk? What’s the deal with SpaceX? How real is all of this?” he said.

Among the startups taking part in Seattle’s Starburst shark tank are:

  • Aerostrat, based in Seattle. Next-generation airline maintenance software.
  • MatterFab, based in Seattle. Provider of 3-D metal printing services.
  • RBC Signals, based in Seattle: Real-time satellite communication for spacecraft in low Earth orbit.
  • BOXARR, based in Bristol, Britain. Software applications for interdependent systems management.
  • DroneBase, based in Los Angeles. Globally scaled, on-demand drone services for enterprise customers.
  • Electric Power Systems, based in Industry, Calif. Next-generation batteries and energy storage systems.
  • Evigia, based in Ann Arbor, Mich. Integrated sensors and wireless tracking systems for defense, industrial and consumer product applications.
  • Identify3D, based in San Francisco: Intellectual property protection, quality assurance and data security for digital manufacturing.
  • iQ3, based in Woburn, Mass. Cloud-based, virtual-reality web conferencing.
  • Koolock, based in San Francisco. Weather forecasting facilitated by nanosatellites.
  • Pierce Aerospace, based in Carmel, Ind. Cloud-based logbooks for commercial drone operations.
  • WiN MS, based in Orsey, France. Breakdown locator assistance tool for aeronautical maintenance.

A previous version of this report provided an outdated list of potential “shark tank” participants.

For more information about Wednesday’s event at the Museum of Flight, check out the Starburst website. Support for the Seattle event is being provided by KippsDeSanto, the Boeing Co., the Washington State Department of Commerce’s Choose Washington program and the French-American Chamber of Commerce, Pacific Northwest.

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