Spun out of two of Europe’s largest research organisations, ConstellR will monitor land surface temperatures from space, safeguarding food supply from impacts of climate change
Freiburg-based SpaceTech start-up ConstellR has raised a €1m pre-seed round led by FTTF, with participation of strategic investor OHB Venture Capital, the venture arm of a proven high technology provider of space systems, as well as Baden-Württemberg’s state bank L-Bank and an undisclosed investor.
Finalist for Hottest Ag/FoodTech Startup
A finalist for Hottest Ag/FoodTech Startup at The Europas Awards 2020, ConstellR aims to provide a currently unavailable dataset to revolutionise precision farming on a global scale.
By monitoring land surface temperatures from space via a constellation of 30 CubeSats with thermal infrared (TIR) payloads, the analytics-ready data generated will help protect the environment and conserve the world’s resources by reducing water and fertiliser usage.
This vital information about crop health and yield forecasting will reduce the cost of existing methods by 97%, safeguarding food supply and democratising access to the data for developed and developing nations alike.
ConstellR to bring its first system to orbit in December 2021
ConstellR, a spin-out of Europe’s largest research organisation – German Fraunhofer – has just signed a launching contract via Fraunhofer to bring its first system to orbit in December 2021. Using its patent-pending miniaturisation architecture, employing free-form optics, additive manufacturing technology and hardware-free calibration, ConstellR promises to commercialise the infrared part of the spectrum at 3% of the cost of traditional satellite systems without loss of performance.
The world’s population is set to hit 10 billion people by 2050 with the United Nations (UN) expecting food demand to increase by around 50%. With agriculture the largest consumer of fresh water, this development is expected to increase water demand by 40% in the next 10 years. If optimisation of water usage is not achieved, many regions will face severe food shortages.
Our mission is to monitor every single field on the planet every single day of the year
Dr. Max Gulde, CEO, ConstellR, said: “Our mission is to monitor every single field on the planet every single day of the year and provide precision farming companies with highly accurate temperature data to safeguard the world’s food supply. With our strong financial and technology partners on board, I am looking forward to a time of quantum leaps in our constellation development to change agriculture on the global planetary scale.”
Tobias Schwind, Managing Partner at FTTF, Fraunhofer’s Technology Transfer Fund, said: “ConstellR’s space mission to offer daily temperature data anywhere of the globe based on microsatellites equipped with unique infrared camera systems enabling a new business model and its passionate team convinced us to make this exciting pre-seed investment.”
Egbert Jan van der Veen, Managing Director, OHB Venture Capital GmbH, the strategic investment arm of the OHB group, said: “We strongly believe in the technical concept of ConstellR as well as its business case and are looking forward to support the team as it takes the important next steps to bring this inspiring project to a success.”
ConstellR’s goal is an ambitious one: To monitor every single field on the planet every single day of the year and provide precision farming companies with highly accurate temperature data. This can be used to derive robust insights to reduce water consumption on average by 40% while substantially increasing crop yield at the same time.
But while the societal need is largest in agriculture, a high-precision, daily-updated temperature map of our planet can be used for many other things: to monitor oil pipelines, to estimate wildfire risk, to characterise urban heat islands, and much more. ConstellR’s patent-pending miniaturisation architecture will be a completely new way to derive insights; one not dependent on daylight, unlike the visual regime currently dominating the Earth Observation market.
The company has previously secured €2m grant funding and there are three patents pending on its satellite payload miniaturisation approach and near-real-time constellation sensor coverage analysis.
Co-founder & CEO Max Gulde is a physicist with a strong technological and scientific background. He has expertise in image data analysis, infrared technology, numerical simulations, space flight dynamics and software development. He has gained experience in the design and development of CubeSats within Fraunhofer EMI’s CubeSat project ERNST.
He leads mission design in general and the requirements definition of the optical payload in particular. As part of his work, he developed a new approach for efficient thermal modelling through the use of GPUs, now funded by the European Space Agency (ESA). He’s been recognised as a Deep Tech Pioneer and ConstellR was winner of the Paris Space Week Innovation Challenge 2020.