Local start-up SkyWatch is bringing Waterloo tech to outer space.
The company’s software product, TerraWatch, focuses on processing satellite imagery. The tool can be deployed on satellites to extract image data and provide it to customers across several sectors.
“We wanted to build a system that any satellite operator in the world can use, an extremely efficient platform for capturing, managing and distributing the data they collect,” said James Slifierz, CEO of SkyWatch.
SkyWatch raised over $20.9 million in their recent funding round in June 2021. They also signed a deal with SatRevolution, a commercial satellite company based out of Poland, to deploy their software on 14 commercial satellites over a five-year period.
Known as the “STORK constellation,” these satellites will collect medium-resolution imagery and data for agricultural and energy customers.
The satellite data provided to farmers can be used to assess field conditions without having to conduct costly manual checks, improving the efficiency of their work. On the energy side, satellite imagery can be used to identify active oil wells and potential dig sites.
The TerraWatch platform developed by SkyWatch facilitates a quick and easy data collection process for their clients once the satellites have been deployed.
“You can focus on getting your satellite into orbit, and once you are able to start downlinking your data to the ground you can start reaching customers almost immediately,” Slifierz said.
SkyWatch was formed through the Communitech Data Hub accelerator, which is well-known in the Waterloo region for offering resources to help start-ups accelerate their growth.
Historically, Waterloo has not had a significant presence in the space-related hardware or software industry. Canada as a whole has fallen behind other countries in private space exploration, as large US companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin dominate the market.
In recent years, however, the growth of the Canadian space start-up sector has been increasing as more accelerators invest in these companies. Mission Control Space Services is another example of a space exploration start-up funded by an incubator as Canada seeks to expand the sector.
“We think organizations like Communitech have done a good job of trying to develop and attract talent into this region,” Slifierz said.
According to Slifierz, SkyWatch is growing quickly and they are currently looking to expand into their own office space. The company began 2021 with just 30 employees and has now doubled in size.