Kinéis raises €100m to finance IoT nanosatellites
February 11, 2020
French space start-up Kinéis has raises €100m to finance a constellation of nanosatellites dedicated to the IoT.
There will be 25 nanosatellites added to complement the service provided by the Argos system to scientific and environmental communities for more than 40 years. Kinéis will now develop its activity in the new markets opened up by the IoT.
The company already has eight operational satellites. The 25 new nanosatellites are scheduled for 2022.
To democratise access to satellite connectivity and to connect millions of objects simply, cheaply and anywhere on the planet, technical prowess alone is not enough, which is why it needed the €100m.
“We are very proud to have reached this major milestone,” said Alexandre Tisserant, newly appointed president of Kinéis. “With the funds needed to launch our constellation, we are now free to focus entirely on satellite manufacturing and commercial deployment.”
The project is supported by CNES, the French space agency.
The Kinéis constellation already consists of Argos operational payloads on seven satellites and a prototype nanosatellite, Angels, which was placed in orbit in December. France's first industrial nanosatellite, developed with the support of CNES and operated from the Toulouse Space Centre, carries technology similar to that of Kinéis.
This launch, and the first successful reception of messages, bodes well for the Kinéis system, which is being developed by the same industrial team: Thales Alenia Space is architect of the system and in charge of the development of payloads with Syrlinks and responsible for ground stations and the mission control centre; and Hemeria is responsible for the satellite platforms and integration.
The project is aware of environmental issues and uses nanosatellites that, in addition to complying with France’s Space Operations Act, can avoid space debris. The satellites, weighing less than 30kg, will be equipped with an electric propulsion system that will secure end-of-life de-orbiting and enable collision-avoidance capabilities.
Industrial space experts and financial partners have joined forces with CLS, which initiated the project with support from two strategic players, CNES and Bpifrance, via the SPI fund. Ifremer, Thales, Celad, BNP Paribas Développement, Hemeria and other industrial and financial partners are investing in and supporting Kinéis.
The capital that has now been raised will finance the construction of the constellation of 25 nanosatellites, 20 ground stations, the IT infrastructure for controlling the constellation, data processing and distribution, the development of products, the launch of the satellites, and the international expansion of Kinéis.
Kinéis provides strategic connectivity for CLS's activities; CLS created the spin-off in 2019 and remains the biggest shareholder with 32% of the capital.
“Achieving our capital raising goal is a big step for our project,” said Christophe Vassal, CLS CEO and president of the Kinéis supervisory board. “The ambitious Kinéis programme will ensure the future of the Argos system. For more than 40 years, we have been using this system to help scientists, NGOs and governments understand our planet, protect it and manage our natural resources in a sustainable way. Kinéis has already yielded good results and we are confident that its success will lay firm foundations for our future growth.”
Jean-Yves Le Gall, CNES president, added: “With Kinéis, French New Space is becoming a reality. The Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales, founder of the Argos system, is demonstrating through Kinéis that it is playing a strategic role in the emergence of French New Space. With Angels, the first stage in this adventure, CNES is proving that it is possible to develop, manufacture and launch satellites in two and a half years, whereas previously it took between five and ten years. We are very proud that CNES, through Kinéis, is promoting the development and excellence of the French space industry. For us, Kinéis is a strategic investment.”
And Magali Joëssel, director of SPI fund at Bpifrance, said: “We are very proud to be participating in the development of the first European nanosatellite constellation dedicated to the IoT. Kinéis has many assets for meeting the needs of industry in addressing the IoT and providing solutions for environmental and climate concerns, thanks to its global coverage. Kinéis will give a crucial boost to the French New Space industry. Through this project, Bpifrance is helping to develop strong skills and establish a New Space sector in France.”
Thales and Hemeria are also participating financially in the project. They have thus demonstrated their confidence in the Kinéis business model and have positioned themselves as partners. Ifremer, Institut Français de Recherche pour l'Exploitation de la Mer (French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea), which was a shareholder in CLS, reaffirmed its confidence in the group, and is now investing in Kinéis. Celad, an IT services company specialising in information systems, industrial and embedded systems has decided to embark on a global connectivity project for the future. BNP Développement has marked its confidence in the project by investing in it with its own funds. Ethics Group, a management consulting firm, has also committed to the project. Finally, several private investors, passionate about space and eager to accompany Europe’s first concrete New Space project, have also joined the adventure and completed the capital-raising round.
CLS is developing several large-scale programmes based on Kinéis connectivity, for monitoring herds (buffalo and reindeer), oceanographic buoys and fishing-related equipment.
At the last Paris Air Show, Kinéis announced the signing of three partnerships with Objenious by Bouygues Télécom, Suez and the Wize Alliance.
Philippe Cola, IoT architect at Bouygues Telecom, said: "The LoRa-Kinéis hybrid is under development and will be made available to our customers for testing in the coming months."
Suez and the Wize Alliance are continuing work to integrate Kinéis space technology into their smart water meters. Advanced Tracking, specialising in satellite communications, has ordered 500 Kinéis modules to design and market as many beacons within the year.
Kinéis is also developing a beacon and a mobile application dedicated to adventurers in remote areas. Kinéis Adventures is also connected to the Cospas-Sarsat institutional civil protection system. This was successfully presented at the AlpinMesse in Austria in November 2019. The final product is expected by the end of the year.
Arribada 3 has developed an electronic design and an open source software library to allow as many people as possible to create their own Argos transceiver.
In 201,9 Kinéis was a finalist at the DB Schenker start-up competition at the Viva Tech trade fair. Insa students are also working on a hybrid transceiver demonstrator for dual-link capability with Kinéis satellite connectivity and NB-IoT networks based on Sierra Wireless technologies.