When it comes to geospatial and mapping data and how it is used by organizations, satellites continue to play a critical role when it comes to obtaining raw information. Getting that raw data into a state that can be used by businesses, however, is a different story. A Berlin-based startup called today LiveEOwhich built a satellite analytics platform to do just that, raised 19 million euros ($19.5 million) amid strong demand for its technology from companies working in transportation and energy infrastructure.
The rise of companies like LiveEO comes amid a period of rapid commercialization of infrastructure designed for use in space, typified by companies like SpaceX, but also others building, for example, a new wave of the satellites themselves. As with larger opportunities in enterprise IT, big data players like LiveEO are essentially the second wave of this development: applications built using this infrastructure.
“Someone needs to create applications for end users that really make it easy to use and integrate this data into processes,” explained Daniel Seidel (left), who co-founded and leads LiveEO with Sven Przyvara (right). “This is what we do at scale.”
MMC Ventures led the Series B investment, and in addition to €17 million in venture capital, the round also included support from two public bodies, the European Commission and Investitionsbank Berlin. Previous backers Dieter von Holtzbrinck Ventures (DvH Ventures), Helen Ventures, Matterwave and motu ventures, as well as new backers Segenia Capital and Hannover Digital Investments (HDInv) are also participating. LiveEO previously raised a €5.25 million Series A in 2021 and said that in that time it has tripled revenue with customers on five continents and doubled its headcount to around 100, with more than half of those engineers and data specialists.
As a German startup, LiveEO is one of a small but growing group of startups in Europe that take advantage of the growing interest in space among investors in recent years, despite broader pressures on technology funding. Relatively speaking, however, the sums are still modest compared to other areas of technology: LiveEO says this €19 million round is one of the largest in earth observation technology in Europe. LiveEO is focused on enterprise, particularly industrial, applications for its analytics – although given the geopolitical landscape and how this brings a new set of stakeholders playing the role of financiers to fuel its growth, it will be interesting to see how this plays out.
LiveEO’s platform addresses a specific gap between space technology and enterprise data. Satellites collectively produce more data about our world than ever before, covering not only physical objects in minute detail, but also thermal progressions, how systems move, and much more.
Ironically, much of this data is very locked down when it comes to the businesses that use it: given the fragmentation within the satellite industry itself, the data is not only often in very raw formats, but also comes from multiple sources, so getting it into forms that can be integrated into existing IT systems, and in particular (and more complexly) IT systems that integrate with the infrastructure that is the building block of many industrial deployments—not to mention analyzing it for insights—are heavy tasks, so many that opportunities to do them often go unrealized.
The core of the company’s platform brings all of this together in what LiveEO describes as an “infrastructure monitoring suite powered by satellite imagery.” This involves taking the earth observation data produced by satellites and applying AI to it to analyze it in the context of what LiveEO’s industrial customers — which include major rail companies such as Deutsche Bahn or the energy company e.on — seek to understand better.
This may include data on vegetation risks along railway or other lines; earth deformation; or other physical movements or activities; and also includes the ability for a LiveEO user to directly integrate this data to connect to their own IT systems to manage their infrastructure, for example those that monitor systems to ensure they are working as they should. It also pitches its solution as greener: using satellites to source the geographic data these industrial applications need means there’s no need to use teams and vehicles on the ground to deliver it in other ways .
“One of the big advantages of satellite data is that we don’t require hardware to be installed in the infrastructure itself,” Przywarra said.
They believe this data is also more complete: as Seidel describes it, the combination of terabytes of data from multiple sources means it’s not just 3D, but “4D”—with thermal and other kinds of detail available, “is like a difference between the use of a smartphone image and a high-end, high-resolution camera.”
All of this is still a relatively new field, Przywarra added. “Before Google Earth, satellite maps were only used by experts,” he said. “We’re enabling more lay people to use satellite data. We make it accessible and usable.”
Lead investor MMC is one of the most prominent deep tech investors in Europe and it is notable that they are focusing on this area as an opportunity.
“We are thrilled to lead this round for LiveEO, and it reflects MMC’s continued focus on emerging datasets and companies developing AI analytics to power core business decisions,” Andrey Dvornik, director of MMC Ventures, said in a statement. “LiveEO offers a critical tool that paves the way for sustainable industrial automation, and we wholeheartedly support the company’s vision to use satellite technology, big data and the latest developments in artificial intelligence to help companies adapt to the challenges, caused by climate change.’