For the most part, public institutions collect the data used to understand and model climate change. Recently, though, climate tech startups have begun to fill in the data gaps. The SOSV Climate Tech Summit (Sept 26-27 / free & virtual) presented a panel of three startups at the forefront of climate observation, intelligence, and data. What are they tracking, and how will their data address climate change?
Private sector climate observation tech has grown thanks to the ubiquity of (relatively) inexpensive sensors on the ground, in the air, and in orbit, as well as 5G networks, AI-based systems, and much more. The three companies on this panel gather data on the ground with a human in-the-loop, from remote monitoring stations on mountain tops, and from satellites orbiting the earth. Their technologies and approaches differ, their goals overlap in surprising ways. They are making significant contributions in measuring carbon sequestration in forests, detecting wildfires within moments of ignition, and ferreting out methane plumes from remote locations.
Gaia AI, a graduate of SOSV’s HAX startup program, uses observation technology to bring transparency and trust to carbon credit markets. The company collects biomass data on forests using forest managers wearing sensor-loaded backpacks. This data enables landowners, developers, and investors to track the carbon and timber content of their property—and verify that carbon credits are honored. In December 2022, the Boston-based team raised a $3M pre-seed round led by E14 with Ubiquity Ventures, Space Capital and SOSV’s HAX participating. Peter McHale, Co-Founder and CEO of Gaia AI, joined the panel.
Kayrros is a Paris-based environmental intelligence company that collects a variety of climate-related data from satellites. It excels at attributing greenhouse gas emissions to specific companies and their industrial assets and also provides tools to measure exposure to climate-related risks like wildfires, flooding, and landslides. Kayrros has built a diverse customer base of carbon and commodity traders, insurance firms, investors, and public entities. Since launching in 2017, Kayrros has raised over €72M from backers including the French government, European Investment Bank (EIB), NewSpace Capital, Opera Tech Ventures (the VC arm of BNP Paribas), and Cathay Innovation. Antoine Rostand, President and Co-Founder of Kayrros, spoke on the panel.
San Francisco-based Pano provides a wildfire management platform that detects threats, confirms fires, and disseminates information to responders. The company uses elevated “Pano Stations” rigged with 360-degree cameras to collect data for AI and computer vision algorithms that detect incidents. Pano tries to pinpoint fires in the critical early stage, before the first 911 call, when a quick response can mean the difference between a contained brushfire and a deadly disaster. The company has raised $45M in funding from Valor Equity Partners, Initialized Capital, Salesforce Ventures, T-Mobile, Congruent Ventures, Convective Capital, and January Ventures. Sonia Kastner, Founder and CEO of Pano AI, spoke on the panel.
TechCrunch writer and photographer Devin Coldewey moderated the discussion.
Can climate observation startups shape how we mitigate and adapt to climate change? Catch the full session—and all others from this year’s Summit—here.
Peter McHale has a variety of experience and education around robotics and AI, with a masters in computer engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, a masters in robotics and AI from University of Michigan, an MBA and sustainability certificate from MIT, and five years working in the autonomous vehicles industry at Ford, Argo AI, and May Mobility. He and his team at Gaia AI are working on solving the biggest problems holding back forests from being an ideal carbon sequestration solution.
Antoine Rostand is the co-founder of Kayrros, the leader in environmental intelligence and asset observation technology. With the largest and most cost-effective database of more than 3 million energy, power and industry assets mapped across multiple sectors and geographies, Kayrros is trusted by the largest market players to provide accurate, critical insights on reducing greenhouse gasses, protecting people ecosystems and assets, and managing the energy transition. Prior to establishing Kayrros, Antoine founded and served as President of the Schlumberger Energy Institute, a not-for-profit entity committed to energy-transition technology that has since transformed into the Kearney Energy Transition Institute. Antoine earned an MBA from Insead and an MSc in engineering from Ecole Polytechnique.
Sonia Kastner is the CEO and Founder of Pano AI, the leader in early wildfire detection. Previously, Sonia spent over ten years building and leading supply chain and manufacturing organizations within fast-growing, mission-driven start-ups. Her global leadership experience spans Nest Thermostats, multiple solar energy companies, and extensive consulting across the IoT ecosystem. Prior to starting her career in technology, she worked in economic development for New York City under Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Devin Coldewey is a Seattle-based writer and photographer. He first wrote for TechCrunch in 2007. He has also written for MSNBC.com, NBC News, DPReview, The Economist/GE’s Look Ahead, and others.