A start-up founded by three Oxford Executive MBA alumni that utilises space technology to achieve global sustainability goals has secured £100,000 in funding.

Sushma Shankar, Natalia Efremova and David Carter all met when they studied the Oxford Executive MBA at Saïd Business School in 2013. Hailing from India, Russia and Australia, they came up with the idea for their company Deep Planet after participating in GOTO (Global Opportunities and Threats Oxford), Saïd’s action-orientated problem-solving community geared towards addressing some of the most complex issues that face the world today. 

Deep Planetbased at Harwell science park in Oxfordshire, uses satellite imagery and machine learning to provide intelligence to businesses and policy makers and aims to solve global issues such as climate change and water and food shortages. It tracks crops through satellites, providing predictions on plant health, soil moisture, fertilizer usage, yields and helps farmers to reduce costs. It monitors water assets to help the industry reduce costs and forecast water levels.  The business uses remote sensing data to help the oil and gas industry to monitor leaks and methane gas emissions.

The funding that has been secured will be split between the European Space Agency (ESA)’s Business Incubation Centre and the Copernicus Incubation Programme, which supports promising businesses using Copernicus satellite data.  The tranche of funding will be used to support their first project – monitoring grape crops. It is now also working on pilot schemes for customers in the areas of agriculture, forestry, water and gas leak detection.

Ultimately, the founders aim to support the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out by the United Nations in its 2030 agenda for sustainable development. The company is currently focused on zero hunger, clean water and clean energy goals. Deep Planet has also been named as one of 50 “Game-Changers” (inspiring start-up, fast growth businesses) in the Thames Valley.

‘With the recent rise in commercial satellite launches and advances in machine learning techniques, we realised that satellite-based analytics could make a significant difference to the fight for global sustainability,’ says Sushma. ‘Our goal is to empower business and decision-makers with insights that are not readily obvious to the human eye.’

Kathy Harvey, Associate Dean, MBA and Executive Degrees, adds: ‘The Oxford EMBA curriculum draws on expertise from across the University to think about business in the global context and ask powerful questions about the future. We are a world-class school, seeking to tackle world-scale problems and this is a powerful example of how this learning is being put into practice.’

Deep Planet is currently raising their seed round through to May 2019. The company is recruiting for people to share its vision, specifically in the areas of machine learning, data science, GIS, full stack, front-end developers and agronomists.  For anyone within our Twenty Mile Club audience looking to learn more or apply to work for Deep Planet, you should contact Sushma Shankar at  sushma@deepplanet.ai.

We look forward to sharing our interview with the founders soon.

C. Moncrieff