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British Satellite scale-up raises UK£15 million in oversubscribed Series A funding

British satellite scale-up Satellite Vu, founded in 2016, has successfully raised UK£15 million (US$20.7 million), as it looks to ramp up its plans to launch seven thermal and infrared imaging satellites into space that will be able to provide real-time data on how green every building on the planet is.

satellite Vu mosaic image of Liverpool

Satellite Vu’s latest funding round of IK£15 million (US$20.7 million), which was oversubscribed, was led by the Seraphim Space Investment Trust Plc, the world’s first listed Space Tech Fund. Also investing in the round is Draper Esprit; A/O PropTech, Europe’s largest proptech VC; Ridgeline Ventures; Earth Science Foundation; E2MC Ventures and Stellar Solutions/Ford Family Trust.

The funding round highlights Satellite Vu’s rapid growth, with the company having raised its seed round funding of UK£3.6 million (US$5 million) just six months ago. Satellite Vu’s first satellite - being manufactured in Guildford, Surrey, UK - will collect real-time temperature data about the Earth’s built environment several times a day, allowing for key insights around energy efficiency and how individual buildings are being used and occupied. The first satellite is due to be launched into orbit in October 2022. This data can be updated every one to two hours, and the use of infrared means coverage is guaranteed even at night.

By measuring the heat coming off a building, Satellite Vu will provide data that will be able to show if any individual building is being heated efficiently or which parts of a city are the worst emissions offenders. This matters acutely when it comes to the built environment because the real estate industry is one of the largest contributors to climate change. It makes up 40 percent of global carbon emissions when accounting for construction and building performance.

Satellite Vu’s data has the potential to be a game-changer for anyone involved in building, funding and insuring real estate and infrastructure. By providing global data at a micro-local level, the technology has the ability to empower real estate market actors to make the right changes to make building stock greener.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres called the recent IPCC report 'a code red for humanity,' which highlighted how vital it is for changes to be made now to start tackling climate change. But without accurate data, both the private and public sectors will struggle to make the correct decisions quickly enough to ensure that the pace of change is fast enough.Insurers, investors, banks and building owners will also all be able to use the data to make better-informed decisions. For example, regulators have also mooted a clampdown on leaky commercial buildings in the UK, with plans to increase the minimum standard of energy performance certificates to a B grade, ruling thousands of properties as stranded assets. Owners and funders of those buildings will need to know which parts of their portfolio could fall foul of incoming regulation and adjust valuations and buy/hold strategies as a result.

The initial use of the data will be for the built environment, but the data will also be able to be used for:

  • Pollution flows into rivers and seas

  • Wildfire monitoring

  • Maritime security (people trafficking/pirates/illegal fishing)

  • Monitor for compliance, safety and net zero credential of industrial processes such as mining, steel and cement

  • Regulators could use the data to ensure their sustainability standards are accurate

Satellite Vu has also been backed by the UK Space Agency through its National Space Innovation Programme (NSIP) to support the build of the infrared sensor for its first satellite. The UK Government recently launched a National Space Strategy aimed at advancing British space technology, which included measures to back businesses like Satellite Vu that help tackle global challenges such as climate change.

Satellite VU will be attending COP 26.

Anthony Baker, CEO of Satellite Vu, said: “With COP 26 just around the corner and Europe and parts of the USA having suffered the hottest summer on record, there is growing acceptance that we need to act now to try to mitigate the impacts of climate change on our everyday lives and economy. But while many think of industries such as aviation as some of the least sustainable, the built environment is actually one of the primary polluters across our globe. But regular individual monitoring of these buildings is too expensive both in terms of time and cost, meaning much of the environmental and sustainable ratings are often years out of date. That’s simply not good enough when we clearly need to act now and means many are not aware of just how poorly a building is performing in terms of sustainably.

“Our groundbreaking use of infrared and thermal imaging technology on our satellites will mean that landlords, funders, insurers and governments and regulators will be able to access real-time information at an affordable cost that will provide them with a single source of truth on how sustainable a building really is meaning they can take steps to make that building more sustainable. This latest round of funding means we can look ahead to the launch of our first satellite in late 2022 and start the process of securing delivery slots for the remaining six.”

James Bruegger, CIO of Seraphim Space LLP, Seraphim Investment Trust’s investment manager, said: “We have been committed to Satellite Vu for a number of years, first through our Accelerator programme and then through multiple investments. Our significant increase in investment shows the enormous promise that high resolution infrared satellite data holds in solving serious issues impacting the world. With 40% of all carbon emissions coming directly / indirectly from buildings, finding a way to pinpoint the worst energy wasting buildings at global scale is a pressing issue if the world is to achieve Net Zero. By measuring the thermal footprint of any building on the planet, Satellite Vu’s high resolution, high revisit infrared satellite constellation holds the key to resolving this.”

Gregory Dewerpe, founder of A/O PropTech, said: “Investing in the fight against climate change means backing innovation and bold ideas, but it also means we have to do it now if we are to have any hope of reaching our net zero ambitions. Real estate is the most polluting asset class in the world and it’s also the largest one. This means that reaching our net-zero goals globally will only be possible if we successfully decarbonise real estate. Satellite Vu’s accurate, real-time measurement of the energy performance can become the single source of truth when it comes to calculating, benchmarking and reducing buildings emissions and show us exactly where to prioritize something that neither current regulations nor systems, which are based on historical operational use data, are able to do at scale and systemically.”

George Chalmers, Draper Esprit said: “Retrofitting the world’s existing building stock is a key lever for achieving any net-zero roadmap. Currently, we are lacking the insight needed to deploy, at scale, the trillions of dollars needed in this area. Consistent and robust data is crucial across every layer of the stack, from government and regulators to financiers and insurers.

“Satellite Vu is bringing a whole new category of data and solutions to these important markets. We believe in its potential to lead the charge in how we measure the energy efficiency and carbon footprint of our built world and deliver on the promises we are making to our planet.”

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