CEO Interview: Isotropic Systems readies for launch

July 16, 2021 // By Nick Flaherty
CEO Interview: Isotropic Systems readies for launch
John Finney, founder and CEO of UK space technology developer Isotropic Systems talks to Nick Flaherty about his plans for the future and the challenges of the supply chain and hiring enough staff

UK startup Isotropic Systems is riding a wave of interest in space technology in the UK, US and Europe.

The company, based in Reading, already has 90 people and has raised over £70m from customers and equity investors and still has a way to go. “We are a UK deeptech startup in transformational optics and our project to get to revenue is around £120m before we launch the product in the middle of next year,” said John Finney, founder and CEO of Isotropic. “We are closing a funding round this year where we intend to scale up to produce more products in parallel.”

This is the first solid state flat panel satellite antenna that can mesh signals from multiple different satellite constellations, giving flexibility of network access.

“This is true multibeam, so we are not subdividing the bandwidth so there is no degradation of bandwidth and the package is fully solid state with the antenna, modem, power, self installing and essentially connects to many satellites at once,” he said. “We’ve cracked that.”

With SpaceX and UK-based OneWeb already deploying constellations of thousands of satellites in low earth orbits (LEO) to deliver high speed broadband connectivity from space, and Amazon’s Project Kuiper planning to do the same. Satellite connectivity is expected to skyrocket 35 fold by 2027, fuelling a $400bn potential industry says investment fund Seraphim. Last week it launched a dedicated space fund, with Isotropic as one of the investments.

Isotropic is also riding the wave of support for space companies in the UK and across Europe and the need for satellite terminals.

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“When I look at the ecosystem Europe is developing I couldn’t be happier,” said Finney. “There seems to be an insatiable appetite to put new satellite systems in orbit regardless of demand. Europe is thinking about manufacturing and lots of other things and you could argue that building another constellation is not necessary, but what’s happening is LEO is becoming a strategic asset around the world so its inevitable drive to have single antennas that can connect to all.”

The Isotropic technology is an optical lenses that bends radio waves in the 10 to 60GHz frequency band. “This is not a metamaterial which uses dispersive and lossy materials,” he said. “The problem is you need as much or all the signal as possible, so we use fully isotropic materials that radiate equally in all directions and are practically lossless so we get the same amount from the top to the bottom for the transmit and receive path.”

Next: Isotropic material optimisation tool

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