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Urban Sky announces $9.75M Series A funding round
Company to begin nationwide scaling of its stratospheric remote sensing business.
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Urban Sky announces $9.75M Series A funding round
by Staff Writers
Denver CO (SPX) Oct 17, 2023

Urban Sky, a stratospheric technology and remote sensing company, announced an over-subscribed $9.75 million Series A financing round co-led by New Legacy Ventures, Lerer Hippeau and Lavrock Ventures, with participation from Catapult Ventures, Union Labs VC, DA Ventures (a Denver Angels Affiliate), and TenOneTen Ventures. The company will use the funding to scale its commercial imaging operation, develop advanced stratospheric technology, and broaden its sensor portfolio.

Urban Sky's technology enables broad-area, high-resolution remote sensing at data acquisition costs significantly less than all other aerial platforms. The company invented the Microballoon, the first-ever small, precisely placeable, fully reusable, and rapidly deployable remote sensing balloon.

With the announcement of this Series A, Urban Sky will scale its flight and imaging operation to more than 15 U.S. states, commercializing the technology for multiple applications, including insurance analytics, utilities monitoring, disaster response, wildfire monitoring, environmental analysis and, more broadly, to capture high-resolution (<10cm GSD) remote sensing data at unprecedented refresh rates above urban centers and environmental areas of interest. This technology will offer customers access to more, better remote sensing data and insights than ever before.

Stratospheric balloons have historically not been used for remote sensing applications due to their inability to fly over desired areas at specific times. Urban Sky's Microballoon enables reliable, high-resolution remote sensing due to its small form factor and ability to launch from mobile locations in just minutes with minimal personnel. This mobile launch system coupled with advanced flight modeling software and safe, controlled descent enables precise placement of these systems over desired areas. The Microballoon also emits >25 times less CO2 than remote sensing aircraft, making it one of the greenest ways to image Earth in high-resolution.

Urban Sky's co-founders, CEO Andrew Antonio and CTO Jared Leidich, have significant experience in stratospheric flight technology and applications. Leidich led the Spacesuit team for Project StratEx, the highest human balloon flight and skydive of all time. The leader and pilot of StratEx, former SVP of Engineering at Google, Alan Eustace, will serve as an independent Board member following this fundraise.

"Our team is passionate about enabling access to more and better Earth Observation data to fuel new insights about our world," said Andrew Antonio, Co-Founder and CEO. "The Stratosphere is one of the last, virtually untapped commercial frontiers, and Urban Sky plans to commercialize this layer of Earth's atmosphere for the benefit of all humanity. Our vision is to finally enable safe, smart, and routine utilization of the Stratosphere for a variety of applications, all the while building a sustainable organization geared towards sound financial performance."

"We believe that Urban Sky represents a category-defining business led by an exceptional and uniquely experienced founding team," said Alex Wong, Partner at New Legacy Ventures. "We're excited to partner with Urban Sky to help enable unparalleled access to the stratosphere and the insights and data that will come with it." Alex Wong will also be joining Urban Sky's Board of Directors.

Urban Sky pairs its Microballoons with custom, ultra-lightweight imaging payloads designed and built in-house. Those payloads, all weighing less than 6 pounds, are operational and routinely capturing ~10cm resolution natural color (RGB) imagery and ~3.5m long-wave-infrared (LWIR) data for paying customers in the Rocky Mountain region.

"Urban Sky will usher in a sea change in aerial data acquisition costs, leading to a fresher, higher resolution, lower cost, and ultimately more valuable and useful view of Planet Earth," said Andrea Hippeau, Partner at Lerer Hippeau. "Urban Sky has multiple layers of defensible technology and IP, an exceptional backlog of business, and the right team to finally unlock the stratospheric data layer."

Urban Sky is already working with customers across markets, including insurance, environmental monitoring, and oil and gas.

"SkyWatch is witnessing an unprecedented surge in demand for very-high resolution Earth Observation data," said James Slifierz, Co-founder and CEO of Skywatch, an Urban Sky customer and channel partner. "However, satellite-based supply constraints have significantly curtailed our ability to satisfy this growing appetite. By partnering with Urban Sky, we aim to unlock the untapped potential of the stratosphere, leveraging a new frontier to quench the market's insatiable demand for very-high-resolution imagery."

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