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Unlocking the sky: How Rafel Jorda Siquier’s UK-based satellite startup raised $50M to revolutionise space access

Open Cosmos, the UK’s only provider of end-to-end satellite mission management, has secured $50 million in Series B funding. The round was led by impact investors ETF Partners, Trill Impact, and A&G, and included participation from Accenture Ventures, Banco Santander InnoEnergy Climate Tech Fund and Claret Capital Partners. The funding will accelerate the company’s growth as it acts as a critical tool in combating climate change, tackling disasters, and managing the earth’s resources.

Open Cosmos founder and CEO Rafel Jorda Siquier joined TFN to tell us about the company’s start and how it is making a difference.

Leading the way in a rapidly changing industry

Siquier comes from a space background, hailing from Spain, he worked in the sector for both startups and established names like Airbus. However, he noted that the industry was transforming. “When I was finishing my MBA, I realised that the rules of the space industry were changing,” he recalls. “Small satellites and faster innovation were starting to happen in the industry. I decided to move to the UK and founded Open Cosmos.”

Although Siquier started Open Cosmos alone, Aleix Megias Homar and Jordi Barrera Ars soon joined and formed part of the founding team. “I’ve known them for many, many years,” said Siquier. “We met each other when we were at university. A lot of years have passed since then, but I asked if they would help me, they were very excited about the vision and what we could be building together.”

Open Cosmos is unique in the UK, an end-to-end provider of satellite missions. “We have three products,” explains Siquier. “OpenOrbit, OpenConstellation and DataCosmos.” Together, they offer a complete solution for clients. “With OpenOrbit, we can do the design and manufacture of a satellite in a matter of months, rather than years. OpenConstellation targets customers who need big amounts of data. And DataCosmos focuses on the interpretation of that data.”

The combination has allowed the company to scale rapidly. “We are able to provide information to address problems related to the use of natural resources, the optimisation of transport, and monitoring the effects of climate change, especially wildfires and flooding.” Combined with a 100% success rate on their missions, it has allowed them to grow rapidly, doubling revenue year-on-year since 2020. And that success allowed them to grow with relatively little external funding, before this round, they had only raised $7 million, with other investments coming from their growth.

Continuing their growth and impact

Open Cosmos sees its mission as simplifying and democratising access to space and the related data, meaning this can be used to address global issues on the planet’s surface. The ability to monitor the earth from space is essential, more than half the key climate variables can be observed with satellite data, and around 40% require the global coverage that is only possible from space. Together, it contributes to a satellite market that’s estimated to be worth $11.3 billion by 2031.

It has given Open Cosmos a direct view of the impact of climate change. “During the summer months, we monitored wildfires, but also for ways to mitigate them. Now we are starting to monitor a lot of flooding and the effect that has on civilians and asset management,” Siquier said. And they are planning to add to their capabilities. “In the next four to six months we have four launches scheduled, and we are manufacturing another 14 satellites that are going to be delivered over the next year-and-a-half.”

Open Cosmos is also looking at partnerships. “We want to partner with companies that are specialised in domains or sectors with know how of AI or other analytical techniques,” says Siquier. “This way, we’re building a marketplace of applications and information.”

Space data has always been an important means of understanding planet Earth,” said Trill Impact’s Investment Manager, Toba Spiegal. “But it is only with its increasing affordability, the amplifying effects of climate change and the rapidly growing number of AI/ML solutions that extract insights from this data that the market is now ready to reach its full potential.”

The rapidly changing nature of the space market has opened opportunities for many. Having once been the exclusive domain of the super-powers, Siquier highlights the diversity of his team of nearly 70 spread across the world, “we are very diverse. We have people from all around the world; the last time we counted, it was 17 or 18 different nations.”

And that change is continuing, says Siquier, encouraging more founders to enter the sector, he said, “there is a great opportunity because the rules of the industry are being rewritten. There really has been a paradigm change, and there’s never been a better time to start a company in this sector before.”

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