Fleet Space Technologies has used a new round of capital raising to secure $11 million, with the intention to launch a series of slightly larger nano-satellites into space in 2020 to deliver internet-of-things technology across the mining and agriculture sectors.
Among the new investors is wealthy Hong Kong businessman Li Ka-shing, whose infrastructure companies own just over half of South Australia's electricity provider SA Power Networks.
Fleet now has four CubeSats in orbit, launched in late 2018, providing internet of things (IoT) services for energy and resources companies in the US and Australia.
But demand has been so great it has decided to launch additional satellites.
Fleet co-founder and chief executive Flavia Tata Nardini said the company needed to launch more satellites soon and decided to conduct a new capital raise.
Fleet’s current constellation comprises a mix of 1.5U and 3U CubeSats, two launched on a RocketLab mission from New Zealand and then one each on Indian and SpaceX Falcon launches. Launches were in November and December last year.
Fleet’s next satellites are likely to be four larger 6U CubeSats, providing greater capacity and capability. Launch is planned for mid to late next year.
Fleet, based in Adelaide with just over a dozen employees, expects to double in size with this new investment.
This was Fleet’s second capital raising since it was founded in 2015.
The latest round was led by new investors Momenta Ventures and Mr Li’s Horizons Ventures, while existing investors Grok Ventures and Blackbird Ventures also participated, as did the Kennard family, owners of Kennards Hire.
Demand for IoT services, which is pushing the need for additional satellites, is coming mainly from energy and natural resources applications. Most of Fleet’s existing customers use Fleet IoT applications for asset tracking and management.
Fleet plans to use some of its new capital to boost customer support.
Ms Nardini said for IoT services, Fleet needed to be close to customers to provide assistance and it wasn’t just about putting in more modems.
Fleet is in competition with other firms offering IoT services either by satellite or ground infrastructure.
However, Fleet said it has a more flexible approach and works with a number of IoT protocols, not just a fixed architecture, and that’s why it has managed to attract so many customers.
Fleet is the first investment for Momenta Ventures' new IoT fund.
“We believe that the next wave of innovation in connected industry will be powered by low power, wide area networks, and see satellites complementing terrestrial networks to provide coverage anywhere, anytime,” said Momenta Venture principal Lee Carter.
“We are excited to see how Fleet’s technology and constellation of satellites can become crucial to bringing the possibilities of the IoT to the far reaches of the globe,” said Horizons Ventures director Patrick Poon.
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