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Satellite IoT startup Myriota raises $15m

Australian Internet of Things (IoT) satellite technology startup Myriota has announced raising $15 million through a Series A funding round, with Boeing HorizonX Ventures a major contributor.

Also kicking in funding were Singtel Innov8 and Right Click Capital.

“The fact we have managed to engage such a stellar list of investors doesn’t just underline the quality of our tech and IP; it also gives us access to highly strategic resources and capabilities as we move to the next level,” Myriota CEO Dr Alex Grant said.

“The Internet of Things has a major connectivity problem: Hundreds of millions of devices that need to communicate but don’t have cost-effective, battery-friendly networks to do so. Myriota solves this problem.”

According to Myriota, it will be launching more satellites; opening offices in North America and Asia; adding 50 additional staff members to its South Australian headquarters; and launching a $2.72 million IoT innovation lab in Adelaide.

The investment in Myriota marks Boeing HorizonX Ventures’ first in a company outside the United States.

“Part of the mission of Boeing HorizonX is to pursue and accelerate innovations coming out of startups around the world. By investing in Myriota, we are proud to support Australia’s startup ecosystem and growing space industry,” Boeing HorizonX VP Steve Nordlund said.

“The Myriota team channelled its telecommunications expertise to develop a solution that simultaneously connects hundreds of millions of low-cost, low-powered transmitters to satellites.

“This was a compelling investment for us because as a global company, Boeing recognises and supports the innovation occurring in Australia and beyond.”

Myriota in November claimed to have solved the satellite connectivity challenges of access, scale, battery life, and cost to provide links for devices in regional areas of Australia.

Calling its solution the “holy grail for remote IoT” in a blog post last year, Myriota said its low-cost transmitters, which send small packets of data to low earth orbit nano-satellites, remove the requirement for infrastructure and backhaul on the ground.

Based in South Australia, the company spent seven years on research and development for a transmitter product, holding 17 patents on the technology, and is launching its commercial “direct-to-orbit connectivity solution” for IoT in 2018.

Speaking last year, Myriota CEO Alex Grant said his company was trialling its solution across livestock and water monitoring in agriculture, as well as asset tracking, marine science, defence, vessel tracking, and utilities in areas outside of cellular coverage, such as in Arthur River and Armidale.

Myriota is also eyeing a future in commercial fishing monitoring, Grant said, with governments moving to mandate tracking to ensure compliance with licensing and sustainable fishing practices.

At present, there is no affordable way to track the millions of fishing vessels in maritime areas, he said, with Myriota’s solution possibly providing the answer to this.

Myriota’s current-generation technology allows for a four-year battery life of IoT devices using two AA batteries; scales to hundreds of millions of connections; and offers a tenfold cost reduction from traditional satellite offerings to “reduce the bar for getting into space”, the chief executive said.

It also currently has GPS on board, but Grant said the company is now working on equipping geolocation without needing this. The advantage, he said, would be the removal of a power-hungry chip from IoT devices, further improving cost and battery life.

Grant also explained how Myriota has worked to ensure the security of its system.

“We had to really work very hard to solve a problem not just of data payload encryption — that’s fairly straightforward — the real challenge is the authentication and privacy aspects of the link so that you can’t, for example, have an attacker getting home metadata attacks on your IoT system,” Grant said in November.

“For example, counting how many things you have or being able to tell where all your things are. Even if they don’t know what the actual sensory [data is], there’s a lot of commercial information in perhaps the population of your deployment.”

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