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Ursa Space Systems Leverages Funding to Support Companies Focused on Environmental and Social Governance

Ursa founders, Adam Maher, Julie Baker, and Derek Edinger, review a satellite image on a large monitor.

Ursa Space Systems Leverages Funding to Support Companies Focused on Environmental and Social Governance

Ursa Space Systems, a geospatial services company that pioneered transparency in the oil and gas supply chain by using satellite-based radar, received $15 million in a funding round led by Razor’s Edge Ventures. With the additional funding, the Upstate New York-based startup is creating new products with a range of applications including insurance, logistics, mapping and environmental and social governance (ESG).

Eric Gertler, Empire State Development acting commissioner, president and CEO- designate, said in a statement, “New and innovative startups throughout New York state are making use of cutting-edge technology to provide services in a modern, diversified economy. Ursa’s commercial use of SAR (synthetic aperture radar) imagery will fill an economic niche with help from a New York Ventures investment.”

Insurance is one of the additional markets Ursa has targeted for expansion.  With the increasing rate of extreme weather incidents across the globe, Ursa can help insurance companies better respond to and plan for future events, so that they can offer more timely and appropriate relief to people, farmers and businesses across the globe. Ursa’s radar analytics offer an alternative view of communities and can deliver reports on areas too remote or devastated to be accurately measured by eyes on the ground. Ursa is helping their customers proactively plan responses to future high-risk events with rapid-response analytics and alternative data.

“Unlike other forms of imagery, synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite-based imagery can collect information in all weather conditions, including dense smoke, cloud cover or haze, at any time of day or night,” said Adam Maher, co-founder and chief executive officer at Ursa. “These attributes make it perfect for assessing damage quickly, and continuously, from things like extreme weather incidents to oil spills. The problem we are addressing is urgency. The more quickly a change is known, the more valuable it is to our customers.”

In late 2014, Adam Maher M. Eng ’07, a Cornell Engineering alumnus, noticed a disconnect between space-based data from radar and companies trying to use the information for better decision making. Adam moved to Ithaca from the Bay Area to build the founding Ursa team and partnered with Julie Baker and Derek Edinger M. Eng ’95 (also a Cornell Engineering alumnus). The company has grown from a small startup based at Ithaca’s startup incubator, Rev: Ithaca Startup Works, to a globally recognized business receiving multi-millions in funding. The company was recently recognized by Via Satellite as one of the Top 10 Hottest Satellite Companies in 2020. One of the company’s longstanding products includes its Global Oil Storage inventory report, which enables customers to gauge supply and demand around the world. In addition to energy analytics, Ursa also offers custom monitoring services for information and analysis about parts of the world that their customers are interested in.

With a new, larger office space, and a rapidly growing staff, Ursa plans to continue its growth in downtown Ithaca, NY.

“Being headquartered in Ithaca has provided us with great talent from the region including scholars from Cornell, Ithaca College, and RIT, to name a few,” said Maher. “On top of that, Ithaca is an affordable community with a network of support for startups, and we are thrilled to be a part of it.”

As for next steps, co-founder and chief operating officer, Julie Baker is excited to leverage the company’s new funding and explore the impact the company’s technology can have on other industries: “Ursa is unleashing the power of radar analytics.”