- Satellite Evolution Group
Better space data to reduce Canada’s agricultural environmental impact
Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), an arm’s-length foundation created by the Government
of Canada to fund technologies with economic and environmental benefits, has announced a CAD $4 million investment into Canadian satellite startup Wyvern.
The investment is tied to a three-year project that includes support from xarvio® Digital Farming Solutions a brand by BASF Digital Farming GmbH, Olds College, SkyWatch, Metaspectral, and Wild + Pine as consortium partners. This funding announcement comes just weeks after Wyvern’s recent announcement of USD $4.5 million in funding and acceptance into the Y Combinator accelerator.
“Wyvern’s technology is addressing a major gap in the market,” said Leah Lawrence, President and CEO of SDTC. “Their imaging products are going to help farmers use less fertilizer, pesticides, and water and help produce bigger yields. SDTC is proud to support Wyvern in their mission to increase the productivity and sustainability of Canadian farmlands.”
According to The Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute, the agriculture industry contributes 8.4% of Canadian greenhouse gas emissions, while globally the industry accounts for about 23% of the world’s emissions and roughly 70% of the global water demand. Incremental improvements in on-farm management have enormous potential to contribute to global environmental improvements.
A 2019 report from Canada’s Space Strategy indicates that increasing the rate of crop farmers using satellite imagery by 25% by 2027 could lead to cost savings to farmers in the range of CAD $650 million to CAD $1.3 billion, while contributing to more sustainable farming practices.
"We are always looking for ways to improve farmers' lives and provide growers with the ability to make informed decisions surrounding their fields while enhancing sustainable food production," says Dr Alex Melnitchouck, Chief Technology Officer - Digital Ag at Olds College. “Our 2,800 acre Smart Farm and HyperLayer Data Concept is a perfect fit for the testing and analysis of new technologies. Our collaboration with Wyvern is an exciting opportunity to explore what cutting-edge satellite technology means for the next chapter of digital innovation in farming and for sustainability in the Ag industry."
The funding from the SDTC will help Wyvern reach a significant milestone: the launch of their DragonEye satellite. Wyvern’s proprietary deployable optics technology is key to their ability to deliver affordable high resolution hyperspectral imagery, including 1m VNIR and 5m SWIR, in the coming years. DragonEye will be Wyvern’s first satellite equipped with this innovative technology that unfolds a telescope in space, similar to the James Webb telescope launched in late 2021.
“This funding is a massive win for the company,” said Wyvern CEO Chris Robson. “Our long-term vision is to measure Earth’s health from space, and this funding gets us closer to delivering on that in a big way. It’s going to get our deployable optics into space for the first time, which is going to unlock significant opportunities for the farmers in our backyard and around the world.”