Portuguese Startup Secures $2.2M to Build Hosted Payload Connectivity Network

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Insider Brief

  • Connected, a Portuguese startup, secures $2 million for satellite-based IoT connectivity using spare satellite capacity.
  • Plans demo mission for 5G narrowband network protocol connectivity without owning satellites.
  • Targets growth in IoT connectivity market and explores direct smartphone connectivity in remote areas with new funding.

A Portuguese startup, just a year old, has secured approximately $2 million in funding to demonstrate its concept for a narrowband connectivity network by deploying a payload on a commercial small satellite. Connected aims to utilize available space on small satellites to establish a network for connecting remote devices such as irrigation controllers and monitoring systems. With the decline in satellite manufacturing and launch costs leading to the creation of larger satellites, Connected sees an opportunity to integrate third-party payloads. By partnering with low Earth orbit operators, Connected plans to connect Internet of Things (IoT) devices using standard 5G narrowband network protocols without the expense of launching its own satellites.

The company’s payload, which can consume up to 30W of power, is designed for easy integration with satellites, particularly those larger than 12U in size. Despite having some hardware components already validated in orbit, the software needed for 5G NB-IoT connectivity awaits space demonstration. Connected is in talks with Open Cosmos for a demo mission potentially by the end of December, following a strategic partnership.

“During the design phase of these satellites there’s often some margin in mechanical and power demands, typically below 10% to 15% of the overall capacity,” said CEO and cofounder Tiago Rebelo, who formerly headed the Portuguese Earth observation company Geosat. “While this may not seem substantial, it represents an opportunity for us.”

The funding, announced on February 20, will help expand the team in preparation for this demo mission and tap into the increasing demand for satellite-based IoT connectivity, expected to grow from five million devices in 2022 to 21 million by 2026. Connected, competing with firms like Sateliot, OQ Technology, and Iridium Communications, also aspires to offer direct smartphone connectivity in areas beyond cellular coverage, addressing the needs of over 450 million people worldwide. The funding round was led by FundBox, Shilling VC, and Iberis Capital, with contributions from other investors including Amena Ventures, Octopus Ventures, and Keith Willey.

Featured image: Connected cofounders (left to right): Chief strategy officer André Guerra, chief operating officer Raquel Magalhães, CEO Tiago Rebelo, and chief technology officer Hélder Oliveira. Credit: Connected

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