Glasgow space technology start-up secures expansion funding

Satellite communications specialist R3-IoT is is set to more than double its headcount after closing a £3.1 million seed investment round led by US-based Space Capital.

Headquartered in Glasgow, the Scottish firm has developed a digital communications platform that combines satellite, cellular, IoT and data analytics to provide digital connectivity to remote and rural locations with little or no existing infrastructure. This is currently being tested in a number of proof of concept programmes.

R3-IoT is also leading a consortium of research partners developing a satellite surveillance and data gathering system to provide an early warning of problems on fish farms and other aquaculture sites.

Set up in 2018 by Allan Cannon and Kevin Quillien, who previously worked together at Clyde Space, this is R3-IoT’s first round of external funding. Other backers include the Scottish National Investment Bank and the University of Strathclyde, along with North American investors including former BlackBridge chief executive Ryan Johnson, chief executive Nathan Kundtz and Loren Padelford, former manager of revenue at Shopify.

Scottish Enterprise also becomes a shareholder and continues to support the company.

READ MORE: Glasgow satellite firm R3-IoT leads fish farm early warning system move

Mr Cannon, who serves as chief executive, said: “The funding round is clear recognition of the potential for our platform to broaden the reach of existing satellite technologies by focusing on what has been, up until now, the ‘missing piece’ in  digitisation.

“We have ambitious plans and are in a strong position to accelerate our international growth strategy and take advantage of the rapid advances in space communications and IoT technology, from our base in Scotland.”

Commercial launch is planned for later this year, with the company looking to establish a base in North America. It is expected that 20 new roles will be created within the next eighteen months in its engineering, technical, sales and marketing functions.

Space Capital is a seed stage venture capital firm specialising in the space economy. Managing partner Chad Anderson said Space Capital “immediately saw the opportunity with R3-IoT”.

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“This is the right company at the right time that will benefit tremendously from new backhaul capacity coming online through low-Earth orbit satellite communications,” he said.

“Scotland is the perfect testbed for this capability that will enable mission-critical connectivity and we are thrilled to join the efforts of Allan, Kevin and the team at R3-IoT, supporting their growth into global markets where there is huge demand for their services.”

R3-IoT’s technology wirelessly connects smart devices such as sensors that automatically transmit data via the cloud to a platform that allows organisations to remotely manage operations across multiple sites and locations.

“As 90 per cent of the planet lacks traditional communications infrastructure, our mission has been to address this challenge by providing resilient data services coupled with analytics to produce insights that inform, automate and advance operations for customers in key industries worldwide,” said Mr Quillien, chief technology officer at R3-IoT.

READ MORE: Space technologies will have an increasing role in the fight against climate change

Other industries being targeted by the company include the utilities, infrastructure, digital health, emergency services and energy sectors.

R3-IoT has tripled its headcount during the past 12 months, during which time it was also named a winner in OneWeb’s Innovation Challenge 2021. The firm is additionally a graduate from the Creative Destruction Lab, a global programme where seed-stage companies seen as “massively scalable” are selected to participate.

Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde, added: “It is wonderful to see an early-stage company such as R3-IoT, which has such firm Strathclyde roots, successfully concluding this seven-figure funding round with external investors. We look forward to following and supporting the company’s future successes as it expands and grows.”

Advisers on the investment were US-based legal firm Wilson Sonsini and UK-based law firm Harper Macleod.  

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