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Google Ventures leads $20m Series B for imagery analytics company

The company will use $20m from two separate funding deals to develop its big data satellite imagery analysis tools for agriculture and other sectors.

GV, formerly Google Ventures, has led a $15 million funding round for Orbital Insight, a geospatial big data company with agricultural applications.

Orbital Insight wants to develop satellite imagery to determine premiums and settle claims for crop insurance in developing countries, and has partnered with the World Resources Institute to track deforestation.

Existing investors Sequoia Capital, Lux Capital, Bloomberg Beta and CME Ventures participated in the Series B raise, which will go towards improving its analytics tools for satellite imagery. The company uses its technology for counting and volumetric measurement in the agriculture, energy and transportation sectors, as well as anti-poverty initiatives.

The company has also reached a separate investment and development deal with In-Q-Tel, a venture capital firm which “identifies, adapts and delivers innovative technology solutions to support the missions of the Central Intelligence Agency and broader US intelligence community” for an additional $5 million. It will also provide analytics tools to In-Q-Tel’s client base.

The company boasts partnerships with satellite operators including DigitalGloba, Airbus, Planet Labs, Rapid Eye and Urthecast, for access to satellite imagery for development and testing of algorithms to analyze satellite imagery.

“Orbital Insight has made significant progress in its use of data and satellite imagery for better decision making across a range of verticals, including government, insurance and financial services,” said Andy Wheeler, general partner at GV, in a statement. “The team’s expanded product breadth and ability to leverage deep learning techniques to analyse geospatial data and imagery is unparalleled.”

Companies applying advances in deep learning and big data analysis to imagery have drawn a growing amount of funding from agtech investors. In November last year, Cultivian Sandbox led a $5 million raise for Descartes Labs. In May, SlantRange raised $5 million from a group of California angel investors to deploy its drone-mounted agri sensor and analytics platform.