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Seraphim Accelerator Mission #2 Alumni ConstellR raises $10m to prevent water and food shortages

Written by: leah_seraphim

Fantastic news from Seraphim Space Accelerator Mission 2 alumni constellr as they share they they have secured a £10M funding round co-led by Lakestar and Vsquared Ventures. We are excited to be able to support them on their mission to build the first globally scalable crop water monitoring system. Helping to ensure global food security for the planet.

The money will be used to build and launch ConstellR’s first two satellites, grow its team from 40 employees to up to 100 and develop its data processing platform. 

By 2050, the United Nations estimates that 50% more food will be needed by our growing global population, leading to an increase in water use in agriculture by 40% by the end of this decade. Food and water insecurity will be among the greatest challenges facing society in the coming years.

About ConstllR

ConstellR’s satellites will take measurements of thermal infrared light to calculate the temperature on the Earth’s surface with high resolution. At higher temperatures, more water evaporates. This is the most robust measurement to predict water loss into the atmosphere,

The tech can determine how much water a particular crop field requires. It can also recognise an impending drought much earlier than existing remote sensing methods — fast enough for farmers to reduce damage to the crops with targeted watering.  

Within the next five years, ConstellR plans to save 60bn tonnes of water, which in turn will prevent 14 megatonnes of CO2 emissions.

Full Press Release:

Freiburg, Germany, 2 November 2022 – constellr, a space data and services company building the world’s first globally scalable crop water monitoring system to help ensure global food security, today announces $10M in seed funding. Lakestar and VSquared co-led the financing round, with participation from FTTF, IQT, Amathaon, Natural Ventures, EIT Food, OHB Ventures, Next Humanity, and Seraphim. With this investment, constellr will develop its first two satellites, conclude its existing pilot programs and develop its processing platform. Food and water insecurity will increasingly be among the greatest challenges faced by society.

By 2050, the United Nations estimates that 50% more food will be needed by the Earth’s population, leading to a water increase of 40% by the end of this decade. Of all the world’s fresh water, an incredible 70% is used in agriculture of which an estimated 60% goes to waste due to inefficient irrigation and planting methods, equating to an astonishing 40% of global freshwater.

OurOur inability to measure the water needed in agriculture is a massive contributing factor to this problem. Non-sustainable water use globally costs €220B a year and is expected to reach a staggering €2T by the end of the decade – the equivalent of only eight harvests away. We’re seeing an entire paradigm shift taking place as water becomes an increasingly scarce resource and the limiting factor in food production. Spearheaded by researchers Max Gulde, Marius Bierdel and Christian Mittermaier, constellr was spun out of the Fraunhofer Institute for High-Speed Dynamics, Ernst-Mach-Institut, EMI with the mission to mitigate the impending food gap. By using microsatellites to monitor the Earth’s surface temperature and soon also its chemical composition, constellr’s technology can robustly derive water need and water availability across every field on the globe, every single day.

Unlike existing satellites, constellr’s microsatellites go beyond visual imaging to identify stress symptoms before crops are damaged. Consequently, constellr allows earlier response times across high-precision agriculture, crop health monitoring and sustainable resource management compared to current space-based systems. constellr’s satellite images provide high-precision data that can be used, for example, to determine the water requirements of crops that have already been cultivated.

Therefore, an impending drought can be recognized much earlier than with existing methods and fast enough to implement effective mitigative actions such as targeted irrigation. This method optimizes and reduces water consumption while increasing crop yield per litre of water used. Crop health and yield is particularly sensitive to heat, so constellr’s monitoring system offers the opportunity to massively improve early crisis detection, with knock-on effects across supply chain management and commodity trading. By providing the central dataset for agriculture to build reliable forecasts, constellr is helping to determine yield more robustly and much earlier, and avoid potentially catastrophic supply chain effects.

Constellr facilitates the saving of up to 40% of water and reduces the risk of crop loss, driving towards an environmentally positive agricultural system. Within five years, Constellr expects to leverage 60 billion tons in water savings, thereby avoiding 14 megatons of CO2 being emitted and generating billions of Euros in gross benefits for farmers. “The team has worked relentlessly on all fronts, removing obstacle after obstacle, getting a first camera in space and pilot customers onboard. And now, we are incredibly proud to partner with what will become our mission control: Lakestar, VSquared, FTTF and IQT for deep tech, Amathaon, Natural Ventures, EIT Food and Next Humanity for agriculture, and Seraphim, OHB and Spacebel for space.

Together, we just ignited the second stage towards a global water monitoring system,” says constellr Co-Founder and CEO Max Gulde. Constellr is currently working with large agrifood, agrichemistry and smart irrigation organizations. It has a rapidly growing number of pilot programmes in place with clients, allowing farmers todrastically reduce monitoring costs, while improving the reliability and availability of their crophealth assessments. As a result of the higher demand for food, less land being available for agricultural production and changing environmental conditions, the likelihood of increasingly strict regulations being applied to the use of water and fertilizer is very high. T

his further emphasizes the need for scalable monitoring solutions. With satellites the size of a small refrigerator and the injection of fresh capital, constellr anticipates to be able to answer this need within 18 months. Constellr’s team is growing rapidly, having doubled in the last six months. It currently counts over 40 team members with roots in aerospace engineering, insurance, clean tech, finance and data science. It has a combined contribution to over 20 space missions, including several constellations. “Climate change is the fundamental challenge our generation is facing and, in our efforts to combat its effects, we must ensure the global food and water systems are more resilient. Never has there been a greater need for scalable monitoring solutions like that offered by constellr. We’re thrilled to join their journey in building cloud-based space infrastructure that will enable European leadership to effectively monitor agriculture,” says Lakestar’s Venture Partner leading Deep Tech investments, Steven Jacobs, who will join the board.