Satellite communications startup SatixFy is celebrating this morning following the announcement Tuesday that they had raised a $25 million Series B investment led by the Israeli-Chinese venture, Catalyst CEL Fund.
SatixFy sells indoor and outdoor VSAT units (“Very Small Aperture Terminal” that links a computer with a transceiver), plus designs its own chips that are capable of supporting IoT networks. They recently opened a new research center in the UK after receiving a grant from the UK Space Agency via ESA.
“The company targets very big markets such as the people unconnected to the internet, IoT devices for private networks and rural areas as well as drone communications,” SatixFy Founder and CEO Yoel Gat said in a press release. Gat is also the former chairman and CEO at Gilat Satellite Networks who brings about 30 years of experience to the fore. “We are very impressed with the Catalyst CEL Fund’s reach, as was demonstrated, for example, in the very successful investor event at the GoforIsrael Conference in Shanghai in September. We are looking forward to working with the fund’s team.”
There have been several ideas for disseminating the web in underdeveloped areas. Israeli startup SkyFi is deploying an array of nanosatellites to project the internet into remote areas, while bigger efforts like Facebook’s Aquila drone and Google’s Loon projects would reach isolated communities in rural India and rural Africa.
Investment firms Catalyst Private Equity (Israel) and China Everbright Limited (China) launched the $200 million Catalyst CEL fund back in February to expand business ties between Israeli and Chinese technology companies. They primarily invest in middle and later stages, as in this case.
Yair Shamir, Managing Partner of Catalyst CEL Fund, told Geektime that the market for tech like SatxFy’s is growing. He wouldn’t name specific customers, only saying they had buyers across the industry.
“They’re building the building blocks for the subsystem — or even full system — for drones and satellites, down to the end user.”
So what interest does a Chinese-Israeli fund have in something like this?
“It’s not just focused on the Chinese market, but all over. But it’s related to India. Africa. China is, for sure, a big candidate for that — to put in infrastructure to good communications. It’s a huge amount of money in the regular way,” implying that current methods of deploying mass communications could be more cost-effective. He pointed to Facebook’s and Google’s efforts. “Doing it this way with drones or mid-range satellites, it would be the best solution.”