Australian nanosatellite start-up prepares for launch

An Australian space start-up, which plans to launch the first of 100 satellites next year, has raised $5m in a Series A funding round.

Fleet is developing nanosatellites which, once launched, will create a global, free-to-use network for sensors and devices. The target is to connect the world’s 75 billion devices by 2025.

The company was founded in Adelaide in 2015 and initially backed by matched seed funding from the South Australian Government. It has since gained the backing of Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes and venture capital firm Blackbird’s co-founder and managing director, Niki Scevak, who sits on the company’s board.

“There is so much talk globally about the potential of connected devices, but little action being taken to make this chatter a reality,” said Fleet’s CEO and co-founder, Flavia Tata Nardini, a space engineer with the European Space Agency. “We’re designing a technology infrastructure that will underpin the new industrial revolution. It will connect all corners of the globe to create a digital nervous system of devices.

“We chose to launch in Australia as our nation is home to many of the industries that need this type of technology the most. Farmers, environmentalists, mining and oil engineers, and logistics professionals will all greatly benefit from the data and opportunities a switched-on planet produces.”

The size of Fleet’s nanosatellites means they can be produced at a fraction of the cost of traditional satellites. The aim is to deliver a global backhaul service for the Internet of Things by building a scalable network that will give ubiquitous coverage to devices around the world.

“Our goal is for industries to use this technology to make real, tangible efficiency improvements to the ways they operate and address issues; be it measuring the effect of climate change on outer corners the Great Barrier Reef, or tracking important cargo like aid as it journeys across the Indian Ocean. This investment brings a global network of connectivity one step closer to reality,” Tata Nardini said.

Investor Mike Cannon-Brookes said the investment opportunity had got his “adrenaline pumping”.

“Fleet answers one of modern society’s most difficult but important questions: how do we bring all the devices and technology we’ve created together to work as one?” he said.

“Once live, Fleet will solve an innumerable amount of the world’s problems as it enables the potential of technology to be turned on. Fleet is a prime example of Australian-led innovation at its best, and I can’t wait to help it influence the global economy for the better.”

Fleet is currently on an employment drive, seeking software engineers to work on space and ground hardware development projects; an embedded systems engineer and senior IoT architect to develop Fleet's Industrial Internet of Things network; and an electronics engineer.


Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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