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Myriota communications system
Myriota makes use of a satellite-based communications system to monitor Internet of Things devices. (Myriota via YouTube)

Boeing’s HorizonX venture capital arm has made its first investment outside the U.S., as part of a $15 million Series A funding round for an Australian satellite-based IoT startup called Myriota.

Myriota makes use of low-power micro-transmitters to connect with a constellation of nanosatellites that’s operated in league with Canada-based exactEarth, and send snippets of data from remote sensors to a cloud-based processing platform.

The system could let farmers know how full their water tanks are, for example, or monitor personal “black-box recorders” worn by soldiers on the battlefield.

Myriota says its system fills a need that’s likely to become more urgent in the years ahead, due to the proliferation of connected devices known collectively as the Internet of Things, or IoT. By 2025, there could be as many as 75 billion connected devices, generating trillions of dollars annually, analysts say.

“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 CEO Alex Grant said today in a news release. “Myriota solves this problem.”

Myriota's Alex Grant
Myriota CEO Alex Grant holds one of the company’s low-cost, long-battery-life satellite transmitters. (Myriota Photo)

The company was created in 2015 as a spin-out from the University of South Australia in Adelaide. ExactEarth provided $1.55 million in seed funding, plus in-kind contributions. In February, Myriota said it would open a $2 million Internet of Things Innovation Lab in Adelaide.

The newly announced $15 million investment round is led by Australian venture capital firms Main Sequence Ventures and Blue Sky Venture Capital, with additional participation from Boeing HorizonX, 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,” Grant said. “We are excited to have global investors like Boeing Horizon X and Singtel Innov8 supporting our mission to deliver the Internet of Things for everyone, everywhere.”

Boeing HorizonX didn’t disclose the amount of its participation, but it says its investments generally fall in the multimillion-dollar range.

“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,” Steve Nordlund, vice president of Boeing HorizonX, said in a statement. “Myriota‘s technology influences how we think about space-based communications and connectivity in remote locations.”

Although this is HorizonX’s first investment in an Australian venture, it’s by no means the first time Boeing has been involved in tech Down Under. Boeing supports a set of space-related R&D projects in partnership with Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, or CSIRO, and has launched its largest autonomous-systems development program outside the U.S. in Queensland.

Boeing also has made a five-year, $383,000 (AU$500,000) commitment to support the Techstars global accelerator program in Adelaide.

HorizonX was created a little less than a year ago and serves as Boeing’s channel for outside investments in technologies that are relevant to the company’s interests in aerospace, manufacturing and communication. The other companies in the HorizonX Ventures portfolio include:

  • Fortem Technologies for drone radar navigation systems.
  • Cuberg for advanced batteries.
  • Gamma Alloys, for next-generation aluminum alloys.
  • Near Earth Autonomy for autonomous flight control systems.
  • C360 for augmented reality and virtual reality used in immersive videos.
  • Upskill for augmented-reality solutions for industrial settings.
  • SparkCognition for AI tools used with the Internet of Things.
  • Zunum Aero for hybrid-electric airplane propulsion.

One of HorizonX’s investments is still in stealth mode, Boeing says.

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