Armed with $19.5M, LiveEO plots a big data course between satellite geospatial information and industry

When it comes to geospatial and mapping data and how they are leveraged by organizations, satellites continue to play a critical role when it comes to sourcing raw information.  Getting that raw data into a state that can be usable by enterprises, however, is a different story. Today, a Berlin-based startup called LiveEO, which has built a satellite analytics platform to do just that, has raised €19 million ($19.5 million) on the back of strong demand for its tech from companies working in transportation and energy infrastructure.

The rise of companies like LiveEO comes on the back of a period of rapid commercialization in infrastructure intended to be used in space, typified by companies like SpaceX but also others building, for example, a new wave of satellites themselves. As with the larger opportunity in enterprise IT, big data players like LiveEO are essentially the second wave of that development: applications built leveraging that infrastructure.

“Someone has to build applications for end users to really make it simple to use and integrate that data into processes,” explained Daniel Seidel (left), who co-founded and co-leads LiveEO with Sven Przywarra (right). “That is what we are doing at scale.”

MMC Ventures is leading the investment, a Series B, and in addition to €17M of venture capital, the round also includes backing from two public bodies, the European Commission and Investitionsbank Berlin. Previous backers Dieter von Holtzbrinck Ventures (DvH Ventures), Helen Ventures, Matterwave, and motu ventures, and new backers Segenia Capital and Hannover Digital Investments (HDInv), are also participating. LiveEO had previously raised €5.25 million Series A in 2021, and it said that in that time, it’s tripled revenues with customers in five continents and more than doubled its headcount to about 100, with more than half of those engineers and data scientists.

As a German startup, LiveEO is one of a small but growing group of startups in Europe capitalizing on increasing interest in space among investors in recent years, despite the wider pressures on tech finance. Relatively speaking, though, the sums are still modest compared with other areas of tech: LiveEO says that this €19 million round is one of the largest in earth observation tech in Europe. LiveEO is focused on enterprise, specifically industrial applications for its analytics — although given the geopolitical landscape, and how that is bringing a new host of interested parties playing the part of financiers to foster its growth, it will be interesting to see how that develops.

LiveEO’s platform addresses a specific gap between space tech and enterprise data. Satellites are collectively producing more data about our world than ever before, covering not just physical objects in the most minute detail, but thermal progressions, how systems are moving, and more.

Ironically, a lot of that data is very locked up when it comes to enterprises using it: given the fragmentation in the satellite industry itself, the data is not only often in very raw, formats, but coming from multiple sources, too, so getting it into forms that can be integrated into existing IT systems and specifically (and more trickily) the IT systems that integrate with the infrastructure that is the building block of a lot of industrial deployments — let alone parsing it for insights — are all tall tasks, so much so that the opportunities of doing them often go unrealized.

The core of the company’s platform brings all 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 clients — which include major railway companies like Deutsche Bahn, or the energy company e.on — are seeking to understand better.

That could include data on risks from vegetation on railways or other lines; ground deformation; or other physical movements or activities; and it also includes the ability for an LiveEO user to directly integrate this data to link up with its own IT management systems for its infrastructure, for example those that monitor systems to make sure they are working as they should. It also pitches its solution as greener: using satellites to source the kind of geographic data that these industrial applications need means no need to use on-the-ground teams and vehicles to source it in other ways.

“One of the great advantages of satellite data is that we don’t require hardware to be installed at the infrastructure itself,” said Przywarra.

That data, they believe, is also more complete: as Seidel describes it, the combination of terabytes of data from multiple sources means it is not just 3D, but “4D” — with thermal and other kinds of details available, “is like the difference between using an image from a smartphone, and a high-end camera with high resolution.”

All of this is also still a relatively new field, Przywarra added. “Prior to Google Earth, satellite maps were only used by experts,” he said. “We enable more non-experts to use satellite data. We make it accessible and usable.”

Lead investor MMC is one of the more prominent deep tech investors in Europe, and it’s notable that they’re putting focus in this area as an opportunity.

“We are excited to lead this round for LiveEO and it reflects MMC’s continued focus on emerging datasets and companies that develop AI analytics to power core business decisions,” said Andrei Dvornic, a principal at MMC Ventures, in a statement. “LiveEO offers a critical tool that paves the way for sustainable industry automation, and we wholeheartedly support the company’s vision of leveraging satellite technologies, big data, and the latest developments in artificial intelligence to help companies adapt to the challenges posed by climate change.”

Intel has invested $132M in 11 startups this year, on track for $300M-$500M in total

When it comes to corporate venture capital, semiconductor giant Intel has shaped up to be one of the most prolific and prescient investors in the tech world, with investments in 1,582 companies worldwide, and a tally of some 692 portfolio companies going public or otherwise exiting in the wake of Intel’s backing.

Today, the company announced its latest tranche of deals: $132 million invested in 11 startups. The deals speak to some of the company’s most strategic priorities currently and in the future, covering artificial intelligence, autonomous computing, and chip design.

Many corporate VCs have been clear in drawing a separation between their activities and that of their parents, and the same has held for Intel, but at the same time, the company has made a number of key moves that point to how it uses its VC muscle to expand its strategic relationships and also ultimately expand through M&A. Just earlier this month, it acquired Moovit, an Intel Capital portfolio company, for $900 million (a deal that was knocked down to $840 million when accounting for its previous investment).

Intel Capital identifies and invests in disruptive startups that are working to improve the way we work and live. Each of our recent investments is pushing the boundaries in areas such as AI, data analytics, autonomous systems and semiconductor innovation. Intel Capital is excited to work with these companies as we jointly navigate the current world challenges and as we together drive sustainable, long-term growth,” said Wendell Brooks, Intel senior vice president and president of Intel Capital, in a statement.

The tranche of deals come at a critical time in the worlds of startups and venture investing. Many are worried that the slowdown in the economy, precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, will mean a subsequent slowdown in tech finance. Intel says that it plans to invest between $300 million and $500 million in total this year, so this would go some way to refuting that idea, along with some of the other monster deals and big funds that we’ve written out in the last couple of months.

The list announced today doesn’t include specific investment numbers, but in some cases the startups have also announced the fundings themselves and given more detail on round sizes. These still, however, do not reveal Intel’s specific financial stakes.

Here’s the full list:

• Anodot uses machine learning for to monitor business operations autonomously, covering areas like app performance, customer incidents, and more. The idea is that using the platform to monitor for these incidents means detection and response time can be faster. The full $35 million round was announced back in April.

• Astera Labs is a fabless semiconductor startup focused on connectivity solutions for data-centric systems to remove performance bottlenecks in compute-intensive workloads in areas like AI. It announced its Series B of an undisclosed amount two weeks ago, and prior to this it had raised just over $6 million according to PitchBook.

• Axonne develops next generation high-speed automotive Ethernet network connectivity solutions for connected cars: addressing the issue of merging legacy or proprietary systems with the demands of advanced next-generation applications. Intel invested as part of a $9 million round that actually closed in March.

• Hypersonix uses big-data analytics to determine and predict customer demand for e-commerce, retail and hospitality customers. One of its customers is Amazon — which uses Hypersonix’s platform in its supply chain division. That may come as a surprise, but according to Hypersonix’s CEO the e-commerce giant does not have dedicated analytics teams to serve every division in the company, so sometimes they do buy from third parties. The round was actually announced at the beginning of this month: an $11.5 million deal.

• KFBIO out of China is one of Intel’s biotechnology bets. The company has designed and built a digital pathology scanner, which aims to replace microscopes with its big data, cloud-based, and AI-powered insights. The obvious connection and interest here for Intel is on the processor side, but potentially brings Intel into a sphere where it can flex its muscle around a range of AI and cloud computing applications as well. The deal was closed at the beginning of April and totals around $14.2 million.

• Lilt has built an AI-powered language translation platform, not to compete with the likes of Google Translate for consumers, but to help those with international-facing websites and apps localise their services more efficiently. The company actually announced its round today: a $25 million Series B led by Intel.

• MemVerge focuses on “in-memory” computing, an architecture that makes it easier to deploy heavy, data-centric applications. It closed its round of $24.5 million at the beginning of April, and while it’s always worked with Intel processors, Intel’s investment was not public until today.

• ProPlus Electronics, also out of China, is an electronic design automation (“EDA”) startup that speeds up chip design and fabrication for semiconductor companies manufacturing a variety of chips at scale. It closed its round also at the beginning of April. The exact amount was undisclosed except to note that it was in the “hundreds of millions of Chinese Yuan” (or tens of millions of US dollars).

Retrace is an under-the-radar dental data startup that uses AI to improve “dental decision making,” but according to its site seems also to focus on other healthcare areas. It’s not clear how big the round is or when it closed.

• Spectrum Materials out of China is another stealthy company that supplies gas and other materials to semiconductor makers.

• Xsight Labs based in Israel is building chipset designs to accelerate data-intensive workloads that you typically get with AI and analytical applications. Israel has a huge R&D centre in Israel focused on autonomous driving, one of the applications that’s going to demand a lot in processing power, so this looks like a clearly strategic bet. The company raised $25 million in February, but Intel was not disclosed in that round previously.