When it comes to geospatial and map data and how it is used by organizations, satellites continue to play a vital role in obtaining raw information. However, getting that raw data into a state that can be used by businesses is a different story. Today, a Berlin-based startup called liveEOwhich built a satellite analytics platform to do just that, has raised €19 million ($19.5 million) thanks to strong demand for its technology from companies active in transportation and energy infrastructure.
The emergence of companies like LiveEO stems from a period of rapid commercialization of infrastructure intended for use in space, typified by companies like SpaceX, but also others who, for example, build a new wave of satellites themselves. As with the larger opportunities in enterprise IT, big data players like LiveEO are essentially the second wave of that development: applications built using that infrastructure.
“Someone has to build applications for end users to really make it easy to use and integrate that data into processes,” explains Daniel Seidel, who co-founded and led LiveEO with Sven Przywarra. “That’s what we do at scale.”
MMC Ventures is leading the investment, which is not tied to a specific round, and in addition to €17 million in venture capital, the round also includes support from two government bodies, the European Commission and Investitionsbank Berlin. Past donors Dieter von Holtzbrinck Ventures (DvH Ventures), Helen Ventures, Matterwave and motu ventures, as well as new donors Segenia Capital and Hannover Digital Investments (HDInv), are also participating. LiveEO had previously raised a €5.25 million Series A range in 2021, and it said during that time it tripled revenue from customers on five continents and more than doubled its workforce to about 100, with more than half of those engineers and data scientists.
As a German company, LiveEO is one of a small but growing group of startups in Europe that benefits from increasing interest in space among investors in recent years, despite increased pressure on tech finance. Relatively speaking, however, the amounts are still modest compared to other areas of technology: LiveEO says this €19 million round is one of the largest in Earth observation technology in Europe. LiveEO is targeting enterprises, especially industrial applications for its analytics – although given the geopolitical landscape, and how that leads a new set of interested parties to play the role of financiers to drive growth, it will be interesting to see how that develops.
LiveEO’s platform closes a specific gap between space technology and business data. Satellites collectively produce more data about our world than ever before, covering not only physical objects in great detail, but also thermal progress, how systems move and more.
Ironically, a lot of that data is very locked up when it comes to companies using it: given the fragmentation in the satellite industry itself, not only is the data often in very raw formats, but it comes from multiple sources, so getting it in shapes that can be integrated into existing IT systems and especially (and more difficult) the IT systems that integrate with the infrastructure that is the building block of many industrial implementations – let alone analyzing them for insights – are all arduous tasks , so so much so that the opportunities to do them are often not realized.
The core of the company’s platform brings all this together, in what LiveEO describes as an “infrastructure monitoring suite powered by satellite imagery”. This means using the Earth observation data produced by satellites and applying AI to it to analyze it in the context of what LiveEO’s industrial customers – including major railway companies such as Deutsche Bahn or the energy company e.on – want to better understand.
This can be data on risks of vegetation on railways or other lines; ground deformation; or other physical movements or activities; and it also includes the ability for a LiveEO user to directly integrate this data to connect to their own IT infrastructure management systems, for example systems that monitor systems to ensure they are working properly. It also presents its solution as greener: Using satellites to obtain the kind of geographic data these industrial applications need means there is no need to use on-site teams and vehicles to obtain it in other ways.
“One of the great advantages of satellite data is that we don’t have to install hardware on the infrastructure itself,” says Przywarra.
That data, they say, is also more complete: As Seidel describes it, the combination of terabytes of data from multiple sources means it’s not just 3D, but “4D” — with thermal and other types of detail available,” is like the difference between the using an image from a smartphone and a high-end, high-resolution camera.”
All of this is also still a relatively new field, Przywarra added. “Before Google Earth, satellite maps were only used by experts,” he said. “We are enabling more non-experts to use satellite data. We make it accessible and usable.”
Lead investor MMC is one of the more prominent deep tech investors in Europe, and it is noteworthy that they are focusing on this area as an opportunity.
“We are excited to lead this round for LiveEO and it reflects MMC’s continued focus on emerging datasets and companies developing AI analytics to make key business decisions,” said Andrei Dvornic, a director at MMC Ventures, in a statement. . “LiveEO provides a critical tool paving the way for sustainable industry automation, and we wholeheartedly support the company’s vision to leverage satellite technologies, big data and the latest advancements in artificial intelligence to help businesses adapt to the challenges of climate change.”
Updated to correct that this is not a series b.