Our trip to Connected World last week led to the discovery of GeoSpock, a startup that offers a cloud-based platform to assist with collation, processing and visualization of vast geospatial data sets. With smart city and maritime partnerships underway, as well as recent expansion into Asian markets, it’s worth exploring where the startup emerged from.
GeoSpock was founded in 2013 in Cambridge, UK by then-PhD student, Steve Marsh, and CEO of Horizon Discovery Group, Dr Darrin Disley. The duo hoped to design an ‘extreme data’ search engine that could process huge amounts of information that would help contextualize the physical world.
The company operates in four main verticals – maritime assets and logistics, telecoms, smart cities, and ‘DataTech’ – harnessing data for marketing potential. Geospock runs its offering on Amazon Web Services (AWS). As of March 2019, the company has raised £21.25mn from investors.
Recent activity has centered around smart city development in the UK and Asia. The past month saw the announcement that GeoSpock had partnered with Oxfordshire County Council in a £1.4mn deal, and back in January of was a collaboration with the Singapore Land Authority (SLA).
In Oxford, GeoSpock is developing ‘a comprehensive modelling platform’ for deployment across local government in 2020. This will help the council deploy accurate infrastructure strategies such as controlling congestion, building roads, and organizing the routes of care workers.
In what appears to be a shockingly good deal for the local authority, it seems that once developed, Oxfordshire Council will be able to license the platform to other local authorities. GeoSpock’s first public sector partner was the Greater Cambridge Partnership in March this year.
Llewellyn Morgan, Head of Innovation at Oxfordshire County Council said that “we believe the project with GeoSpock will act as an example for other city councils and municipalities, not just in the UK, but around the world to follow.”
In Singapore, GeoSpock’s collaboration with the SLA aims to design a ‘Smart City Operating System’ which would centralize vast data quantities to allow for comprehensive processing and analytics. GeoSpock is one of many companies involved in GeoWorks, an industry center for geospatial companies set up by the SLA.
The company has also been busy in the maritime sector. Most recently, GeoSpock partnered with Baltic Exchange, an independent collator of maritime market information. In what GeoSpock has dubbed a first for the maritime industry, its platform will be able to bring together previously siloed data from Baltic Exchange’s 600 member firms, with a specific focus on analyzing emissions. Baltic Exchange is owned by the Singapore Exchange and headquartered in London.
The telecoms and DataTech verticals of the business appear to be quieter at the minute, although some interesting marketing use cases for GeoSpock’s platform went underway in 2018. One partnership with location data specialist Tamoco aimed to collate and visualize data on consumer behavior during the FIFA World Cup. Any recent collaborations with the telecoms industry appear to have been kept in the dark.
In the world of geospatial data, Riot has generally focused on companies which provide platforms for trading such data – notably, Here Technologies and Terbine.
Here has proved to be a leader in the industry, with its Open Location Platform – essentially an open marketplace for companies to sell and purchase geospatial data. Terbine has also created a cloud-platform on which geospatial data can be traded, although this has been for private initiatives such as the Intelligent Transportation Society of America.
Geospock’s first round of seed investment took place in 2014, raising $5.5mn from two investors – Techstars and Right Side Capital Management. Series A funding took place in 2015, raising $5.4mn from Cambridge Innovation Capital (CIC), Jonathan Milner, and Parkwalk Advisors. This investment pushed the company’s international expansion.
The lead investor, CIC, is an investment fund dedicated to building businesses that grow out of the University of Cambridge and the surrounding ecosystem. It has raised £275mn to date for many software developers and cloud platforms. Recent examples are Riverlane, a quantum computing software developer, and Prowler, an AI machine learning platform.
Parkwalk Advisors is a venture capital firm with a focus on UK-based tech companies. GeoSpock also received investment from Upscale, a UK-tech focused accelerator, in 2017.
A second round of funding took place in 2018 raising $6.6mn. Alongside previous Series A investors, two Japanese companies came on board – Global Brain Corporation and 31 Ventures. This set the company up for its expansion into Asia. In 2019, GeoSpock opened two new offices in Tokyo and Singapore – having raised $32.8mn to date, and having around 70 staff globally.
In March this year, GeoSpock announced a partnership with X-Locations, a Japanese location AI platform which appears to offer a very similar service. As well as a strategic entry into the Japanese market for GeoSpock, both companies hope to enhance the other’s technological capabilities regarding analytics, machine learning and designing solutions.
On GeoSpock’s expansion to Japan, Richard Baker, CEO, said “the pace of innovation is breathtaking in Japan. We are already seeing the use and analysis of geospatial data benefitting citizens and businesses, and there is potential to do so much more.”
Although Series B funding was expected sometime in 2017, this did not actually occur until January this year, raising £10m from previous investors. This was primarily to stimulate the machine learning and data science segments of the business. The company’s most recent appointment to its board was Pontus Noren, Vice Chariman of the Board at Cloudreach – a cloud management and consultancy firm.