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Constellr raises $10M to monitor crops from space

Illustration of a constellation in the shape of a dollar sign.  

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The German startup Constellr has raised a $10 million seed round to monitor crop conditions from space.

Why it matters: Constellr says the data from its satellites can improve harvests while reducing irrigation. And water consumption is just the first step.

Details: Lakestar and VSquared co-led the round.

  • FTTF, IQT, Amathaon Capital, Natural Ventures, EIT Food, OHB Venture Capital, Next Humanity and Seraphim participated.

State of play: Roughly 70% of the world's freshwater supply is used for agriculture.

  • Yet about 60% of that water is wasted, at a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars.

What they're doing: Constellr's microsatellites monitor the planet's surface temperature and chemical composition. The goal: spot potential problems before they harm crops.

  • "We are moving from damage to symptom, from using visual proxies to physical, chemical measurements," co-founder Max Gulde tells Axios.
  • Constellr launched a demonstrator satellite in February. It plans to use the capital to build another two satellites, each about the size of a refrigerator.

How it works: The chief revenue stream is an SaaS play: offering data to Big Ag conglomerates such as BASF, which would then lease or sell the insights to farmers.

Yes, but: These huge corporations are often accused of squeezing every potential dime from farmers.

  • "It’s a difficult task to go from farmer-to-farmer to provide the service on a farm-level basis," Gulde says. "To deliver a tailored product is something that we at a small company simply couldn’t do at this point in time."

What's next: Constellr hopes to launch its next two satellites in 2024.

  • It's in talks with the European Commission and the European Space Agency to become part of the continent's space industry ecosystem.
  • The company is also eyeing expansions into monitoring biomass and other verticals.

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