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Satellite startup secures £1.5m to detect disaster risks

SatSense, a company whose technology can detect ground movements from satellite data, has raised £1.5m in its latest funding round ahead of launching its new online platform.

Having raised almost £3m in total, the Leeds-based startup can identify areas at risk of subsidence and provide early warnings to owners of any number of assets under threat, such as properties, reservoirs or railway lines.

The new online platform will offer instant access to up-to-date information on ground movements at sites throughout the UK and beyond.

Identifying those risks early is a growing necessity for asset managers as climate change increases the likelihood of shifting ground conditions. With enough warning, however, owners can ensure the safety of infrastructure such as pipelines, power plants, mines and road and rail networks.

SatSense secured a contract with environmental search provider Groundsure and, following the capital raise, expects to develop the product further and nearly double its team from seven to 13 this year.

The latest investment came from Mercia Asset Management’s NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance, part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, and the government’s Future Fund, which supports innovative UK businesses affected by Covid-19.

Matthew Bray, CEO of SatSense, said: “The SatSense founders have taken technology that was once only available to governments and research institutes and made it accessible for day to day business use. Our system is the only one that offers instant access to highly accurate, near real-time data over huge areas.

“The service will become all the more important given the impact of climate change. As hotter summers and wetter winters exacerbate seasonal changes in ground conditions, it will allow us to identify areas worst affected and provide warnings on infrastructure or properties at risk.”

SatSense was launched three years ago by two University of Leeds professors, Tim Wright and Andy Hooper, who have a combined 35 years of experience in using satellite technology and algorithms to measure ground movements precisely and accurately.

Will Clark, head of equity at Mercia, said: “Subsidence is not only a costly problem for property owners, it is also a major hazard. Landslips, the failure of bridges or dams and even sinkholes can result in widespread disruption and loss of life.

“SatSense’s technology marks a step change in our ability to monitor sites remotely and detect changes at an early stage. We believe it has potential for worldwide use to help reduce costs and prevent future disasters.”

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