PlanetiQ, the high-definition satellite-based weather forecasting and analytics company, announced that it has completed an $18.7 million Series B round of financing. New Science Ventures and AV8 Ventures co-led the investment round with participation from existing and new investors, Valo Ventures, Kodem Growth Partners, Access Venture Partners, Virginia Tech Innovation Fund, Hemisphere Ventures, Service Provider Capital, Earth Investments, Moonshots Capital, and a large Kansas City-based family office that wishes to remain anonymous.
The investment brings PlanetiQ’s total funding to $23.9 million. The additional funds will help the company aggressively accelerate the launch of its high-definition radio occultation (HDRO) satellite constellation aimed to revolutionize worldwide weather forecasting by offering highly accurate weather predictions earlier, faster, and cheaper than current technology. New Science Ventures partner, Vivek Mohindra, and AV8 Ventures managing director, George Ugras, will join PlanetiQ’s Board of Directors. New Science Ventures invests in early and late-stage technology and life-sciences companies that take novel scientific approaches to address significant unmet needs. AV8 Ventures invests in early-stage breakthrough technology companies.
Radio Occultation (RO) is a cutting-edge meteorological technique that determines the attributes of weather (temperature, pressure, water vapor, wind) at all altitudes above the surface of the earth, dramatically increasing the accuracy of all types of weather forecasting. “Given the PlanetiQ team’s experience with 13 experimental RO missions to space, we are highly confident in the ability of HDRO to revolutionize weather and climate prediction with very significant commercial impact for several diverse industries ranging from transportation to agriculture to renewable energy,” said Vivek Mohindra, partner with New Science Ventures.
“Traditional space-based weather prediction technologies are not only much more expensive than RO on a per-reading basis, but also do not give the vertical resolution or water vapor accuracies that RO does—RO garners information up to every 100 meters, while competing technologies give more of an ‘averaged’ view of what is happening every 2,000 to 3,000 meters across the atmosphere,” said PlanetiQ’s founder and chairman, Chris McCormick. “The resultant inaccurate weather predictions place millions of lives and an immeasurable amount of resources at risk every year.”
PlanetiQ’s proprietary satellite-based HDRO instruments offer revolutionary weather forecasting solutions above and beyond that of competing RO technologies:
- PlanetiQ’s instruments gather critical weather information all the way to the surface of the earth, directly where weather happens, whereas current RO technologies only provide usable information above 2 kilometers of altitude.
- PlanetiQ’s technology enables observations every 100 meters through the atmosphere, unlike the “blended” readings from competing technologies such as space-based infrared or microwave.
- With a full constellation of 20 PlanetiQ satellites, readings are generated every 60 miles across the surface of the earth every day. This is 20 times more data gathered and analyzed than current RO technologies.
- PlanetiQ’s solution reduces the price to a level of roughly 1/50th the price per reading of a weather balloon, the next best weather data technology.
“Our transition from a science-based company to a commercial company was the biggest milestone in 2019,” said PlanetiQ Chief Executive Officer Steve Joanis. “Being awarded a major contract by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is not only validation of our business model, but truly demonstrates the U.S. government’s commitment to not only HDRO specifically, but also to commercial weather applications generally.”
The Series B financing builds on an exceptional year for PlanetiQ, which saw PlanetiQ’s HDRO Pyxis instrument go into production triggering a major revenue award from NOAA. PlanetiQ plans to launch its first two spacecraft into orbit at the end of 2019, with the rest of the planned 20-spacecraft constellation being launched in 2020 and 2021.
“The high volume of rich HDRO data across the globe and at all altitudes will not only revolutionize weather prediction but will also allow the accurate measurement of climate change for the first time in history,” said George Ugras, Managing Director with AV8 Ventures.