PlanetWatchers in London has raised $3.5m to (€2.8m) to expand its crop monitoring service based on synthetic aperture radar (SAR) from satellites and machine learning. The ‘pre A round’ was led by Seraphim Capital and Creative Ventures and was oversubscribed.
The company uses machine learning to support crop insurers in reporting planting dates, acreage, crop classification and claims validation at scale regardless of cloud cover, bad weather, flooding or poor lighting by using SAR.
“The number of extreme weather events has been increasing by 400 percent over the past 40 years, leaving the crop insurance industry vulnerable as the victim of climate change. PlanetWatchers offers an extremely compelling value proposition that is 10x faster, cheaper, and more scalable than existing solutions that can help its customer manage the inevitable and unavoidable impact of these extreme weather events,” said Champ Suthipongchai, General Partner of deeptech venture capital fund Creative Ventures. “We are convinced that PlanetWatchers’ leadership in SAR technology combined with the climate-induced market demand will pave the way to one of the most successful data analytics companies in this space.”
Co-lead investor Seraphim Capital in London is a venture fund with a focus on space startups. It backs Iceye in Finland which has a constellation of SAR satellites in orbit. The European Space Agency also has a number of SAR satellites in orbit as part of the Copernicus programme, including Sentinel-1.
“Our vision and technology can turn months of manual adjustment into minutes of automated analysis,” said Dominic Edmunds, Chief Executive for PlanetWatchers. “We are thrilled that Seraphim and Creative Ventures, as co-leads, have decided to join us on this journey as we aim to use the latest technology to transform the crop insurance market. We welcome the insight from all of our investors who bring with them extensive experience in the worlds of insurance, agriculture the public sector and space technology. Over the next year, PlanetWatchers aims to expand its services across America and into Europe.”
Mark Boggett, Chief Executive Officer of Seraphim Capital, said: “PlanetWatchers is an AaaS business driving new capability and pricing models which we hope will revolutionise the insurance industry, starting with the crop insurance industry, providing reliable data-driven insights that will enable considerable efficiencies and cost savings in their business.
“Our investment reflects the potential we believe this breakthrough technology will have across the environmental sector. With the most advanced SAR technology, providing reliable, accurate and efficient analysis, on a global scale and at speed, PlanetWatchers will help transform, reshape and develop the industry as a whole.”
Seraphim has backed AST&Science, ArQit, Spire Global, Iceye and LeoLabs and also started a space startup incubator with Amazon Web Services. Creative Ventures has backed quantum computer startup Bleximo, lidar developer Sense Photonics and pizza robot company Picnic.
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