SA Startup Simera Raises €13.5 Million To Build Cameras for Satellites

Simera Sense, the South Africa deeptech startup making cameras for Earth observation satellites, has raised €13.5 million in a round led by NewSpace Capital and Knife Capital. The funds will be used to expand the startup’s production capacity to meet growing demand for its product offering.

Founded in 2018, the startup constructs high-resolution cameras for Earth-orbiting satellites used for observation in agriculture, meteorology, mining and other industries. The round is Simera’s first major fundraising since inception. The majority of the funding will be used to build additional production sites in South Africa and Europe as well as growth product and customer support teams.

Simera builds cameras specifically for nanosatellites whose size ranges from that of a shoebox to a microwave. Initially, the company made cameras for bigger satellites but pivoted from that business as clients were hard to find especially in South Africa. It is a different story for nanosatellites as their many use cases have kept Simera’s order book filled. The company can currently manufacture 50 cameras a year and with the funding, they aim to quadruple that to meet increasing demand.

“”We have customers seeking to have up to 30 cameras on their satellite when it launches into orbit,” said Thys Cronje, chief commercial officer at Simera. “Some even look for 100 cameras a year.”

Simera claims to currently have nearly 70 customers worldwide and growing. The company’s cameras’ price range is between €95,000 and €350,000, depending on its ground-sampling distance (GSD). The majority of its supplier and customer base is in Europe and the company will be doubling down on that market with the new funding.

For Knife Capital, which launched its $50 million expansion fund last year, Simera’s value proposition aligns with the fund’s mission to back high-growth South African startups solving global problems. “Simera’s team is strong, there is strong global demand for their products and their cashflow as well as revenue multiples are solid so it made sense for us to back their mission,” said Keet van Zyl, co-founder of Knife Capital.

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