Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has invested in Adelaide space startup Myriota as it looks to expand its “critical” satellite IoT technology around the world during a time of great uncertainty and crisis.
The South Australia-based space startup has closed a $28 million Series B round, secured before the COVID-19 pandemic, from its existing Series A investors and a handful of newcomers, including Mr Turnbull.
The round was led by Hostplus and the CSIRO’s Main Sequence Ventures, with participation from Q-Tel, the South Australian Venture Capital Fund and Singtel Innov8, among others.
The company, founded in 2015, offers cheap, small satellite transmitters with long battery life along with a network of satellites to help companies send and receive data from remote locations. It is used in industries including agriculture and defense for the likes of equipment monitoring and reporting on groundwater levels.
The palm-sized satellite transmitters communicate with Myriota’s constellation of low-earth-orbit nano satellites. This information is then stored securely in the cloud and processed by the company’s software, before it is sent to the customers.
The cash injection will be used to scale up Myriota’s operations across the board, including to increase its satellites from four to 25 by 2022, grow its headcount by 50 per cent in the next two years and expand further abroad.
“This is a critical time for IoT,” Myriota co-founder and chief executive Dr Alex Grant said. “Presently 90 per cent of the Earth’s surface lacks connectivity. At Myriota, we’ve been focused on filing that gap and overcoming constraints in existing infrastructure.”
“With this new funding, we’ll continue to grow our network of satellites to deliver an affordable, environmentally friendly and powerful solution to make data accessible for our global customer base.”
Myriota this week acquired four satellites from data services firm exactEarth, along with the company’s staff members and ground station assets. It has 60 granted patents and has tripled the size of its team in the last two years.
The company’s ability to help other firms across diverse sectors better access data has never been more important, Main Sequence Ventures partner Martin Duursma said.
“Since our initial investment, we’ve witnessed an impressive acceleration in Myriota’s customers’ delivering solutions, from agriculture to defense,” Mr Duursma said.
“This next wave of funding secures the bigger opportunity to scale the company globally and execute on the core product vision of universal, low-cost IoT connectivity,” he said.
“With global economies and conditions currently in flux, what Myriota will do in its next phase is even more critical. This includes doubling down on accessibility and deepening its networks across the areas of the world that need it the most.”
Mr Turnbull’s investment comes after he signalled his intent late last year to chip in to tech startups in his post-politics life.
“Myriota is a leader and innovator in low-cost, low-power IoT. They have paved the way in bringing products to market for global and local applications, both here in Australia’s flourishing space sector, and across the world,” Mr Turnbull said.
Myriota has been closely involved with the Australian Space Agency, which was announced by Mr Turnbull in 2017. The Agency is now also based in Adelaide.
In early 2018, Myriota invested nearly $3 million into an IoT lab in Adelaide, and is now collaborating with the new smart satellites Cooperative Research Centre.