#SAR

Japanese SAR satellite startup Synspective raises $100 million in Series B funding

Huge news for the Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) industry: Japan-based satellite startup Synspective has just announced investments totalling $100 million from its Series B funding round. With this latest round, the startup has now raised a total of $200M in financing since 2015.

The SAR industry has the obvious ‘Matthew’ effect more funding; more satellites; cheaper images; more customers. It’s difficult for new players to enter the game because it’s impossible for them to build cheaper satellites or provide cheaper images than the competition unless they have some revolutionary development in terms of technology—or significant financial backing.

As a nation, Japan doesn’t want to lose this game, so domestic backers have a tendency of trying to support their best player. For this Series B round, 14 Japanese investors were involved in the funding. Synspective has so far only launched two satellites, but still, the development speed is extraordinary. According to the 2021 total funding ranking report from For Startups Inc., Synspective is ranked within the top ten largest startups in Japan.

In 2018, when industry leader ICEYE invited Series B financing, they only raised $34 million. The figure was $136million in their Series D round, but it’s plain to see from these figures that Synspective’s growth is much faster than ICEYE’s was at a similar point in the company’s development. But of course, this is not a fair comparison; investors have become much more well-educated about the sector in the intervening five years—which is why they’re betting on what they hope will be the next ICEYE, this time in the eastern hemisphere.

Synspective is focused not only on capturing satellite data but also on building solutions. According to their website, Synspective has built eight systems, including Land Displacement Monitoring, Flood Damage Assessment, Offshore Wind Assessment, amongst others. Besides this, the company has published many practical business relationship cases. For example, Synspective has a partnership with AMH Philippines, Inc. in Land Displacement Monitoring, with Nihon Suido Consultants in Water Supply and Sewerage Sectors, with JICA in disaster prevention management. As the leading SAR company in Japan, Synspective wins lots of local service contracts.

Interestingly, the company has recently changed its constellation plan. In 2019, when Synspective invited Series A funding, they were planning a constellation of around 25 satellites. After three years of development, they have expanded that number to 30. They are expected to be in orbit by 2026.

The company has launched two satellites so far. The first one, StriX α, was launched in December 2020, and the second one, StriX β, was launched just one month ago, both of them by Rocket Lab Electron rockets. Clearly, the successful launch of the second satellite has accelerated its funding process.

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EnMAP launch on 1st April 2022 in LIVE-Stream

And the countdown runs: in less than a day the first German optical earth observation satellite will enter the orbit over Cape Canaveral in Florida.

With its TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X satellites Germany has become a reliable provider of SAR data since 2007. Now it is time for extension, the Environmental Mapping and Analysis Program (=EnMAP) will be the first German hyperspectral satellite mission dedicated to the monitoring of the Earth’s environment on a global scale.

The keyword “hyperspectral” points to a wide spectral recording range from 420nm to 1000nm (VNIR) and 900nm to 2450nm (SWIR) combined with a short spectral sampling distance of 6.5nm (VNIR) and 10nm (SWIR) respectively. This functional characteristic is very useful to measure key dynamic processes of terrestrial ecosystems relating to agriculture, forestry, soil and geology, and aquatic environments, thereof mainly coastal zones and inland waters. EnMAP was primarily planned as a scientific mission by the German Research Center for Geosciences (GFZ) with the main objective to study environmental processes and the impact of human activity. However, it has potential to also become operationally used.

EnMAP as a mission will be managed by the Space Agency of the German Aerospace Center (DLR). The satellite was developed and built by the German based company OHB, headquatered in Bremen. Responsibility regarding the establishment and operation of the ground segment will be assumed by the Earth Observation Center and the German Space Operations Center, both at DLR and experienced in handling EO-derived data and commanding satellite missions.

 

Synspective is focused not only on capturing satellite data but also on building solutions. According to their website, Synspective has built eight systems, including Land Displacement Monitoring, Flood Damage Assessment, Offshore Wind Assessment, amongst others. Besides this, the company has published many practical business relationship cases. For example, Synspective has a partnership with AMH Philippines, Inc. in Land Displacement Monitoring, with Nihon Suido Consultants in Water Supply and Sewerage Sectors, with JICA in disaster prevention management. As the leading SAR company in Japan, Synspective wins lots of local service contracts.

Interestingly, the company has recently changed its constellation plan. In 2019, when Synspective invited Series A funding, they were planning a constellation of around 25 satellites. After three years of development, they have expanded that number to 30. They are expected to be in orbit by 2026.

The company has launched two satellites so far. The first one, StriX α, was launched in December 2020, and the second one, StriX β, was launched just one month ago, both of them by Rocket Lab Electron rockets. Clearly, the successful launch of the second satellite has accelerated its funding process.

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