An Australian startup that allows devices anywhere in the world to connect using small, low-earth orbiting satellites has become the first company outside the US to receive funding from Boeing’s HorizonX technology investment fund.
The Boeing fund participated in a $US15 million Series A funding round for Adelaide company Myriota, which has developed technology to reduce the cost of satellite technology used to connect devices across the “Internet of Things”.
Myriota uses a small battery-powered transmitter to send small packets of data to a constellation of boxy, low earth orbit (LEO) nano-satellites. The satellites orbit the Earth every 90 minutes at a distance of about 800kms.
The company uses the example of a micro-transmitter monitoring a water tank in outback Australia to illustrate how the technology works.
The transmitter only activates when needed, saving on battery power, and sends information to a satellite which sends this and other data packets back to Earth.
Software then sorts the packets and sends the relevant information to end-users, in this case telling a farmer his water tank is full.
“We formed Myriota to solve a major connectivity problem: hundreds of millions of devices that need to communicate but don’t have cost-effective, battery-friendly networks to do so,” said Myriota CEO Alex Grant said in the funding announcement.
“The scale of this investment, with strong domestic venture capital leadership and strategic participation by global investors is significant for Myriota, and our vision to deliver IoT connectivity for everyone, everywhere.”
The technology has a myriad of potential uses and ranging from aerospace to agriculture and resource companies. Myriota already has already received funding to develop black-box style recorders for use by Australian soldiers on the battlefield.
The current funding round involving Boeing was led by Australian firms Blue Sky Venture Capital and Main Sequence Ventures, which manages the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Innovation Fund. Other investors include Right Click Capital and Singtel Innov8.
“Part of the mission of Boeing HorizonX is to pursue and accelerate innovations coming out of startups around the world,’’ said Boeing HorizonX vice president Steve Nordlund.
“By investing in Myriota, we are proud to support Australia’s startup ecosystem and growing space industry.
“Myriota’s technology influences how we think about space-based communications and connectivity in remote locations.”
Investments by Boeing HorizonX so far have included autonomous systems, energy storage, advanced materials, augmented reality systems and software, machine learning and hybrid-electric propulsion.
The aerospace giant has about 3000 employees in Australia and is active in other research, including a Queensland-based project with CSIRO that is the company’s largest autonomous systems development program outside the US.