French newspace start-up Kinéis raises 100 million euros and finances its constellation of nanosatellites dedicated to the Internet of Things (IoT).
Kinéis has reached its capital-raising target of 100 million euros. Stakeholders are CLS, CNES, Bpifrance via the fund for Industrial Project Companies (SPI). Then there is the ‘Investments for the Future’ Programme and the European Investment Bank. Also, Ifremer, Thales, CELAD, BNP Paribas Développement, HEMERIA and others are industrial and financial partners. Together, they are investing in and supporting Kinéis’ ambition to provide universal satellite connectivity. 25 nanosatellites will be added to complement an existing service. This has been provided by the Argos system to scientific and environmental communities for more than forty years now. Kinéis will also develop its activity in the new markets opened up by the IoT.
Kinéis established strategic commercial partnerships with Bouygues Telecom, Suez, the Wize Alliance and Arribada, and filled its order book. This new French ‘global connectivity provider’ already has eight operational satellites. On top of that, it became the first IoT satellite connectivity player to finance its development, from the construction of its constellation to the launch of its 25 nanosatellites, scheduled for 2022, and the development of its ground segment. This way, this young company is not only fulfilling its financial and industrial promises, but also its commercial and partnership commitments.
Suez and the Wize Alliance are continuing their work to integrate Kinéis space technology into their smart water meters. Advanced Tracking, specialising in satellite communications, has ordered fivehundred Kinéis modules in order 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 solution was successfully presented at the AlpinMesse in Austria in November 2019. The final product is expected by the end of the year.
So, Kinéis financed IoT nanosatellite constellation. The constellation already consists of Argos operational payloads on seven satellites and a prototype nanosatellite, ANGELS. The latter was placed in orbit on 18 December last. The first reception of messages was successful. France’s first industrial nanosatellite was developed with the support of CNES and operated from the Toulouse Space Centre. ANGELS carries technology similar to that of Kinéis. The same industrial team will further develop this. Thales Alenia Space is the architect of the system, which is in charge of the development of payloads with Syrlinks, and which is responsible for ground stations and the mission control centre. HEMERIA is responsible for the satellite platforms and integration. Showing that the Kinéis system is being emulated, Arribada has developed an electronic design and an open source software library to allow as many people as possible to create their own Argos transceiver.
Avoiding space debris
The project is intended to be exemplary regarding environmental issues in that it uses nanosatellites which, in addition to complying with France’s Space Operations Act, are intended to avoid space debris. The Kinéis satellites, weighing less than 30 kilograms, will be equipped with an electric propulsion system that will secure end-of-life de-orbiting and enable collision-avoidance capabilities.
Kinéis provides strategic connectivity for CLS’s activities. CLS created the spin-off in 2019 and remains the biggest shareholder with 32 per cent of the capital. Thales and HEMERIA have also decided to participate financially in the project. They have thus demonstrated their confidence in the Kinéis business model and have positioned themselves as key partners. Ifremer, Institut Français de Recherche pour l’Exploitation de la Mer (French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea), which already was a shareholder in CLS until a few days ago, reaffirmed its confidence in the group. It is now investing in Kinéis. CELAD, an IT services company specialized in information systems, industrial and embedded systems, has decided to embark on a global connectivity project for the future. In its turn, BNP Développement invested in it with its own funds. Finally, several private investors have also joined the adventure and completed the capital-raising round.
Eight months of existence
With more than a score of subscriptions to the Space Priority Program, since its opening last September, the commercial launch of Kinéis has fulfilled its promises. 10,000 chipsets and several hundred additional electronic modules are already in stock and ready for shipment. Orders on a larger scale are expected at the beginning of the year. CLS is also developing several large-scale programmes based on Kinéis connectivity, for monitoring herds (buffalo, reindeer), oceanographic buoys and fishing-related equipment. This must lead to orders in the future.