Wyvern secures more funding, gets set to launch satellites

· The Pulse

Edmonton-based space imaging company Wyvern has raised another US $7 million, setting it up to launch its first satellites in early 2023.

The seed-plus round led by Uncork Capital, with participation from previous investors MaC Venture Capital and Y Combinator, brings the total amount raised to about US$15 million.

Wyvern's first three satellites are now fully funded, and the company is waiting to set a launch date for passage aboard a SpaceX transporter from Cape Canaveral in February, said CEO Chris Robson.

"We're incredibly excited, and we're incredibly excited to build a space industry in Alberta. And we've got an excellent team behind us," said Robson, who co-founded the company with Callie Lissinna, Kristen Cole, and Kurtis Broda in 2018.

Wyvern's high-resolution hyperspectral imaging provides information-rich imagery that the company anticipates will be a sought-after source of data for agriculture, government, resource extraction companies, and defence.

"There definitely are other satellite companies that take images of Earth, but if you compare it to other markets, there's really not that many competitors for hyperspectral imagery, the kind of imagery that we're producing," said Robson.

"There are others that, over the last decade, have gone through the very beginning of a startup phase, that haven't made it to the point of launching something into space," he added. "There's quite a high barrier to do that. It is capital-intensive."

Wyvern's Chris Robson with Edmonton's downtown skyscrapers behind him

Chris Robson, CEO and co-founder of Wyvern, says he is excited to put the company's first satellites into space in 2023. (Aaron Pedersen)

Wyvern has been primarily focused on agriculture, selling its images to organizations that turn them into information products that farmers can use. The potential uses are broad, however, and the same dataset that agriculture companies are after could be of interest across multiple industries.

"For example, if the dataset purely contains farms and agricultural lands, then aside from commercial agriculture, you will also see interest from government, from insurance, potentially from farming co-ops as well," Robson explained. "There's also a case to be made for defence being interested in agriculture because of food security being so prominent in the global ecosystem right now. So there's definitely lots of opportunities to resell the data."

With pre-launch contracts already signed, Wyvern expects to begin generating revenue from its satellites shortly after they're in orbit. It is inviting more companies to "join our inaugural mission into space" with concierge treatment and preferential pricing.

The first generation of satellites from Wyvern will not be as fancy as the ones it has in development, which will feature a foldable telescope, increasing the resolution of the images and decreasing costs.