Issue #4(18) 2018 Environment

Smallsat revolution and AI kick-start nascent EO big data market

Josephine Millward Seraphim Capital, Paris, France

For NewSpace investors financing the growth of companies operating in the Space ecosystem, innovations in downstream analytics to extract insights from new data are key to unlocking the value of assets in the sky. Advances in multi-source data analytics leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, cloud computing and Internet of Things (IoT) have huge potential to disrupt traditional business, drive digital transformation and create new business models and market opportunities. In this article, Josephine Millward, Head of Research at Seraphim Capital, the world’s first global venture fund dedicated to NewSpace, shares her observations of leading Earth Observation (EO) players, new entrants and AI analytics startups, and the technology and business trends in this dynamic industry, highlighting opportunities and challenges for both vertically integrated operators and analytics startups in this nascent market.

The amount of satellite imagery has increased significantly over the last five years and is expected to multiply further in the coming years with thousands of Earth Observation (EO) satellites planned for launch.

Looking ahead, we expect to see more partnership and collaboration amongst data providers and analytics startups, as multiple data sets and vertical domain expertise become critical in developing accurate and reliable solutions to drive market adoption.

EO is one of the fastest growing satellite applications. The smallsat revolution has enabled many new players to launch new lower-cost constellations backed by venture capital. EO satellites now account for about one third of the 1,700+ operational satellites orbiting Earth. Moreover, the number of EO satellites to be launched is expected to accelerate in the next few years with over 30 commercial satellite imagery constellations planned for the coming decade, according to the latest Northern Sky Research (NSR) report.

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