ELSE, a connected technology company based in Switzerland, has raised $3 million through a crowdfunding campaign to launch an IoT nanosatellite.
The company is looking to develop and deploy 64 cubesat-class spacecraft by 2021, forming a network it calls Astrocast, in a bid to accelerate the next wave of IoT applications.
With the support of Airbus Ventures – the investment arm of Airbus Group – it successfully closed the $3 million seed fund on 8 August. Other investors also participated.
As a result of this money and new awards from the European Space Agency, the company has confirmed plans to complete the deployment of two satellites.
Assembly of the first two satellites and three-unit cubesats has already started, and this is happening as the company moves into larger headquarters in Lausanne.
The firm has already come to an agreement with Seattle-based Spaceflight to launch the first satellite, and it is in the process of generating a contract for the launch of the second one.
To speed up the process even further, ELSE has formed agreements with several European companies to pilot the demonstration satellites for IoT use cases. These companies, it says, operate in the marine, fishing and mobile industries.
In another advancement, the company has teamed up with mobile satellite operator Thuraya to identify further potential customers. Although it didn’t take part in this investment round, the firm is supposedly providing sales and regulatory support.
ELSE is currently planning a larger Series A round, too. Aimed at supporting the full-scale development of the satellites, the company said several investors have already committed to the round, which is expected to close in 2018.
Critical phase for Else
Fabien Jordan, co-founder and CEO of ELSE SA, said in a statement: “We are extremely pleased to partner with this group of investors during this critical development phase of Astrocast.
“This seed round validates our ambitious plan to connect the planet and enhance machine-to-machine communications through our innovative satellite constellation and network technology.
“We are looking to disrupt and serve numerous industries and this successful capital raise is an important milestone for us in that plan.”
Wealth of experience
Jordan added that his company is experienced in this area, having successfully launched a satellite in the past. What’s more, it’s still in operation after eight years.
“Our team’s experience is proven by the SwissCube mission, a satellite projected to last no more than one year yet is still fully functional today, nearly eight years post launch,” he said.
“Other key members of our leadership team bring a wealth of expertise in the areas of launch, space systems, finance, and business development – all of which is being leveraged to bring the vision of Astrocast to life.”
Francois Auque, Airbus Ventures’ chairman of the board of the fund’s general partner entity, also said: “We have decided to invest in ELSE, as we believe in the development of machine-to-machine communications and we have been convinced by the cost-effective innovative satellite constellation and network technology which ELSE will be providing.”