Satellite hypergeolocation startup Geoflex, backed by the National Center for Space Research (CNES), announced on March 16, 2023 a €6 million Series A fundraiser. This should allow him to move on to marketing his services after two years of proof of concept and hire forty additional employees over three years (sales and technical engineers).
This round includes Demeter IM, a shareholder of the company since 2018, joined by Bouygues (Bouygues Telecom, Colas and Bouygues Construction), Stellantis and Thales, acting through their respective corporate venture structures and interested in the solution developed by Geoflex.
Exclusive rights to CNES technology
Geoflex is a French start-up based in Massy in Essonne with ten employees. It develops hypergeolocation services to improve the quality of satellite positioning systems known as GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite Systems). This includes American GPS, Russian GLONASS, Chinese BEIDOU and European GALILEO.
The company is developing a correction stream that, synchronized with GNSS receivers, allows you to correct geolocation accuracy anywhere in the world, on land, at sea and in the air, at an altitude of up to 25,000 km, ranging from an error of a few meters to 4 cm. It also improves service continuity and immunity to GNSS interference and spoofing.
To do this, the company uses PPP-CNES/Geoflex (precise positioning) technology, embodied in seven patents developed by CNES twelve years ago and giving it exclusive rights to industrial production and operation. The government agency will receive royalties in return when the company makes a profit.
Place for marketing, in the form of a subscription
Yes, because Geoflex does not have customers yet. Agreements with CNES were signed in 2016. Until 2018, the startup produced the system on an industrial scale, from 2018 to 2022 conducted operational demonstrations in various fields of activity, which led to two CES awards (2019 and 2022) in the field of connected and smart vehicles to win the Dubai World Challenge for Self-Driven Transportation or the Spring 50 Paris-Saclay.
“We have demonstrated that our technology works, that it is not just a vision of the mind presented in PowerPoint. This is what allowed us to raise funds from these global groups,” explains Romain Legros, founder and CEO of Geoflex. Now we’re moving on to the head of marketing!”
Geoflex wants to become a service operator that sells correction streams in a subscription form. Customers will be able to synchronize them to their GNSS receiver to improve the quality of their position data regardless of their receiver, since they are transmitted in a standardized format. The idea is to start by acquiring the clientele of large French industrial groups, then European ones, and after the next round attack the American market. “Then we will need to collect not 6 million, but 30,” explains the General Director.
Automotive use cases
The launch is aimed at the transport sector, in particular the automotive sector, which is why Stellantis is investing in it. Its technology, for example, would improve navigation services by detecting vehicles on the right track even at difficult interchanges (a shortcoming that is often criticized in relation to GPS).
It can also be useful for driver assistance systems (for example, to center vehicles in lanes) and allow the development of services for the general public, such as dematerialization of tolls, payment of parking spaces or refueling.
But most importantly, according to Romain Legros, “Geoflex provides the precision that autonomous vehicles need. Uncorrected professional GNSS has too many disadvantages.” In this segment, PPP technology also allows vehicles to exchange positions more accurately with each other (V2V) and with the infrastructure (V2X).
But also in the railroad, in agriculture or even in the Internet of Things.
In the railway sector, Geoflex’s hypergeolocation can offer travelers better information services, according to the company. “This will avoid the numerous fines imposed by the regions on SNCF due to the fact that trains do not appear on the right tracks at the right time,” says Romain Legros.
Geoflex can also provide automated train traction control, for example to prevent certain drivers from continuing to accelerate and brake downhill, thereby saving energy. “In addition, the accurate and safe positioning of powerful airborne GPS can lighten ground infrastructure, accounting for 40% of investment and maintenance costs,” adds the founder.
The startup is also targeting the aviation sector to operate drones and flying taxis. It can also act in an agricultural environment to develop autonomous tractors by improving the accuracy of hypergeo-local distribution of phytosanitary products or mechanical weed control. Obviously, PPP is also showing interest in the IoT sector.
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