UrtheCast to develop new satellite imaging technologies with $17.6 million from Canadian Government

March 16, 2017
VANCOUVER, British Columbia. UrtheCast Corp. (TSX:UR), developer of space and ground-based satellite technology in Vancouver, B.C., will develop new high-tech solutions to generate and provide highly detailed satellite imagery of the planet with help from a new $17.6-million (Canadian) investment by the Government of Canada.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia. UrtheCast Corp. (TSX:UR), developer of space and ground-based satellite technology in Vancouver, B.C., will develop new high-tech solutions to generate and provide highly detailed satellite imagery of the planet with help from a new $17.6-million (Canadian) investment by the Government of Canada.

UrtheCast will use the funding to develop not only technology that equips the OptiSAR group of satellites for Earth observation, but also solutions to simplify the use of data and high-resolution images of millions of square kilometers of the planet.

The OptiSAR constellation, a network of orbiting satellites with coordinated ground control, will consist of eight synthetic aperture radar satellites and eight high-resolution optical satellites—one of the most advanced Earth observation satellite constellations in the world.

The Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative (SADI) investment is expected to:

help equip Canadians working in the space sector with the skills to develop next-generation technology for Earth observation satellites;

expand Canada's leadership in radar and optical satellite technologies; and

enable UrtheCast to attract additional investment, which will allow the company to scale up in the rapidly growing sector of Earth observation.

UrtheCast works with more than 170 Canadian-based suppliers. This funding is expected to directly benefit a number of UrtheCast's contractors and to foster collaboration between Canada's space sector and various post-secondary institutions with strong space technology programs.

The Government's Innovation Agenda aims to make Canada a global center for innovation that drives economic growth and leads to better skills, jobs, and opportunities for all Canadians. This investment is an example of that vision in action, officials say. In 2014, Canada's space sector employed 10,000 people and generated $5.4 billion in revenue.

"Where innovation happens matters because that's where the best jobs are located. When companies such as UrtheCast innovate, they create well-paying, middle-class jobs. And those jobs spin off into even more good jobs in every community where innovation happens,” says the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development. “Innovations can create entirely new markets and industries that never existed before. They can also give existing industries a new lease on life by making them more productive and efficient. That's how innovation leads to a better Canada."

The investment signifies that the Government of Canada recognizes the potential of the OptiSAR constellation, says UrtheCast Corp. President and CEO Wade Larson, noting that it “further validates the strategic and commercial opportunities of our synthetic aperture radar and optical satellite technologies. Today marks an important step forward for the OptiSAR constellation, and we believe the technologies we are developing through this program will be beneficial, not only for UrtheCast but also for the rest of the aerospace and defense sector and for the high-tech ecosystem in Canada in general."

The planned 16-satellite OptiSAR Constellation is expected to consist of eight X- and L-band synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellites and eight high-resolution optical satellites. The SADI funding will support the OptiSAR program during critical pre-commercial design and development work over the next four years.

UrtheCast's participation in SADI also aims to foster collaboration between research institutes, universities, colleges and the private sector. UrtheCast will be working with several academic institutions, such as the University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria, as well as several private sector partners, in the OptiSAR development program.

The SADI funding is structured as a repayable contribution that will be disbursed in quarterly installments through 31 March 2021 or when the funding limit is reached, whenever is sooner, on a cost-reimbursement basis, and must be repaid by UrtheCast in annual installments over 15 years, beginning in 2023.

UrtheCast expects to claim a reimbursement of approximately $3.2 million for costs incurred between April 2016 and February 2017, as permitted by the funding agreement. Disbursement of funds is subject to customary conditions in agreements of this nature, including covenants to perform certain work and maintain ownership of intellectual property in Canada during the term of the agreement, which expires in 2037. The total amount to be repaid, including interest, is approximately $29 million.

UrtheCast Corp. is a Vancouver-based technology company that serves the rapidly evolving geospatial and geoanalytics markets with a wide range of information-rich products and services. The company operates Earth Observation (EO) sensors in space, including two satellites, Deimos-1 and Deimos-2, to produce imagery data that is displayed on UrtheCast's cloud-based web platform and sold to partners and customers.

Through its subsidiary Deimos Imaging, UrtheCast processes and distributes imagery data and value-added products on behalf of the PanGeo Alliance, a network of eight satellite operators with a combined 15 medium- and high-resolution EO sensors. UrtheCast is also developing and expects to launch two EO satellite constellations: the world's first fully-integrated constellation of sixteen multispectral optical and SAR satellites, called OptiSAR, and an eight-satellite constellation designed to capture high-quality, medium-resolution optical imagery of the Earth's entire landmass (excluding Antarctica) every day, called UrtheDaily.

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