Date: Aug 19, 2021 Source: Company Website (
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Denver, CO -- Urban Sky, a stratospheric technology and remote sensing startup, announced today an over-subscribed $4.1 million Seed financing round co-led by Catapult Ventures (https://catapult.vc/) and Union Labs (https://unionlabs.com/), with participation from TenOneTen Ventures, New Stack Ventures, and Techstars.
Urban Sky has been working quietly the last two years to develop and test its patented stratospheric MicroballoonTM, the first ever small, precisely placeable, fully reusable, and rapidly deployable remote
sensing balloon. This vehicle leverages advancements in component miniaturization, first-of-its-kind balloon reusability, and the ultra-high vantage point of the stratosphere to deliver broad area, high- resolution remote sensing data at costs significantly less than all other aerial platforms. Urban Sky plans to commercialize the vehicle for multiple applications, including wildfire monitoring, disaster response, insurance claims processing and, more broadly, to capture high-resolution (<10cm GSD) remote sensing data at unprecedented refresh rates above urban centers and environmental areas of interest.
Stratospheric balloons have historically not been used for remote sensing applications due to their inability to fly over desired areas at specific times. Urban Sky's Microballoon™ enables reliable, high-
resolution remote sensing due to its small form factor and ability to launch from mobile locations in just minutes with minimal personnel. This mobile launch system coupled with advanced flight modeling software and safe, controlled descent enables precise placement of these systems over desired areas. Additionally, Urban Sky's durable, fully reusable stratospheric balloon envelopes (an industry first) allow for launch in much higher winds than traditional, large stratospheric balloons, offering more operational flexibility for routine, reliable remote sensing missions. The Microballoon™ also emits ~27 times less CO2 than remote sensing aircraft, making it one of the greenest ways to image Earth in high-resolution.
"Every enduring deep-tech company exhibits a common set of foundational characteristics: hungry and passionate founders, multiple layers of defensible technology, and deep insights about the market and how to navigate it," said Rouz Jazayeri and Darren Liccardo, Co-Founders of Catapult Ventures. "Andrew, Jared, and the Urban Sky team have all of these traits. With this new round of funding, Urban Sky will have the opportunity to bring low cost, high refresh rate imaging into a rapidly growing number of industries, and ultimately unlock a new set of applications and insights."
Over the last two years, the company has won notable awards and contracts, including a NASA SBIR to develop a stratospheric long-wave infrared (LWIR) sensor system for wildfire research, multiple Air Force STTR/SBIRs, a partnership with the University of Colorado Boulder to develop a real-time stratospheric wildfire monitoring system, and a $250,000 grant from Colorado's Economic Development and International Trade as one of the state's top advanced industry startups.
The company is actively advancing vehicle, software, and sensor R&D while already serving several commercial remote sensing customers in the Rocky Mountain region, including Arturo, a leading insurance analytics company. "We're incredibly excited about innovation in the stratospheric balloon imaging space and see it as a potential game changer for numerous use cases," said CEO, John-Isaac Clark. "Partnering with nimble providers like Urban Sky enables us to remain on the cutting edge and create even more value for our customers."
Following this financing round, Alan Eustace, the former SVP of Knowledge at Google and the world-record holder for the highest human balloon flight and skydive of all time, will be joining Urban Sky's Board of Directors.
Urban Sky's co-founders, CEO Andrew Antonio and CTO Jared Leidich, have significant experience in stratospheric flight technology and applications. Leidich received five U.S. patents for stratospheric balloon technologies and led Spacesuit design and operations for Project StratEx, the highest human balloon flight and skydive of all time.
"Our team is passionate about enabling access to more and better Earth Observation data to fuel new insights about our world" said Andrew Antonio, Co-founder and CEO. "The Stratosphere is one of the last, virtually untapped commercial frontiers, and Urban Sky plans to commercialize this layer of Earth's atmosphere for the benefit of all humanity. Our goal is to enable safe, smart, and routine utilization of the Stratosphere, all the while building a sustainable organization built on sound business fundamentals."
Today, Urban Sky is already capturing ~10cm GSD broad-area RGB imagery and ~3.5m GSD LWIR data from the Stratosphere with custom imaging systems. Long-term, Urban Sky plans to collect regular refresh, high-resolution Earth Observation data over urban areas to support city planning, utility management, construction monitoring, mapping and insurance-related applications. To date, high- resolution (i.e. <10cm GSD) data is collected over urban areas, at best, every three to six months by low- altitude aircraft. Urban Sky plans to increase the refresh rate of this high-resolution data while significantly lowering the cost. Images available here.