Satelligence: 4impact's investment view

4impact and the European Commission's Horizon 2020 program backed Satelligence with a $2.3m investment in 2020.

The Hague, The Netherlands - Biodiversity loss is among the top global risks to society and has sadly largely been created at the hand of us humans. Research states that in order to shift conventional thinking and facilitate change you need c. 25% of the population to reach critical mass to reverse the status quo.

Satelligence is a global change maker. We recently announced our investment in Satelligence. Their mission is to reach zero deforestation for which they have a unique tech approach and team. We are excited to work with the team at Satelligence and other key stakeholders to help achieve this goal as it is much needed.

Then how big is the problem?

We are facing a sixth mass extinction. Natural forests declined by 6.5 million hectares per year between 2010 and 2015 (in total, an area larger than the U.K.), and natural wetlands declined by 35% between 1970 and 2015. Action to halt and subsequently reverse biodiversity loss needs to be scaled up dramatically and urgently.

There exists a strong business case for scaling up action on biodiversity. The global economic damage of biodiversity loss is estimated at between $2-4.5 trillion per year, presenting both a risk and an opportunity for the sector. Businesses and organisations who adopt measures to reduce the impact of biodiversity loss are in a better position to manage associated risks.

Then how do you solve the problem?

Facilitating radical change requires a new data driven approach. With the exponential growth in digital technology, new solutions are now available which were not an option less than a decade ago. It also requires that we get to that critical 25% tipping point. Collaboration between relevant stakeholders is required in order to reach that tipping point.

That’s where Satelligence comes in.

Satelligence provides global food and agri businesses, financiers and investors the tools and data to assess and report on progress towards reducing deforestation. It leverages insights based on satellite and supply chain asset data, artificial intelligence and local, on-site human intelligence.

Satelligence is unique in many ways, but below we name our top 4 reasons that attracted us to Satelligence and our reasons to invest.

  1. The team. Niels Wielaard and Arjen Vrielink are by far the most experienced founders we have met in this space. They are thought leaders in their respective fields with combined more than 40 years of relevant experience in deforestation and satellite imaging interpretation. They have the technical know-how and have been at the cradle of setting up protocols and other standards in the palm oil industry and know what is relevant for their customers. They have the global network, the knowledge, the dedication and the passion to reach their goals. The 20-person team includes key local managers in Asia, Africa and South America.
  2. Satelligence's scalable product provides their customers with relevant alerts: They created their product to interpret satellite imagery to detect deforestation in a scalable way, however, that data alone is not sufficient. It is the combination of the AI satellite imaging together with on the ground data. This includes millions of farms and plantation concessions, mills and silos, ownership, group structure and supplier linkages. This is the true distinction between Satelligence and many other companies claiming to detect deforestation based on satellite imagery. Clients want to know when deforestation is done illegally, Satelligence provides them with accurate and relevant information to tackle this global issue, locally.
  3. They provide the tools for large blue chip organisations and businesses to effectuate change:  The likelihood of implementing change is bigger if you are part of the coalition vs taking an opposition position. That’s exactly Satelligence’s approach. They are working together with large stakeholders who have an ability to make a change. Their blue-chip list of customers includes Mondelez, Unilever, Bunge, WorldBank, Rabobank, Robeco, World Wildlife Fund, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands whom they support in demonstrating progress towards zero deforestation, and making the right sourcing and investment decisions. That’s how to get to the 25% tipping point!
  4. Material growth potential. 100% of the funding has been attracted to accelerate growth. This includes expanding into more commodities and into different client groups, including the financial institutions.  Most Financial Institutions have not chosen to put sufficient systems in place to monitor or measure the impact of their loans on biodiversity, nor do they have comprehensive policies to halt it. This creates a huge opportunity. With the co-founders of 4impact having combined more than 35 years of experience working in the financial industry, we believe that we can contribute and create meaningful value.  
In 2019, the world’s largest banks invested more than $2.6 trillion (equivalent to Canada’s GDP) in sectors which governments and scientists agree are the primary drivers of biodiversity destruction. - Portfolio Earth: Bankrolling Extinction

At 4impact we are excited and proud to work together with Niels, Arjen and the rest of the team at Satelligence to reach zero deforestation. Let this also be a reach out to anyone who reads this: Do you work, or do you know somebody who works at a company that trades, invests in, manufactures, purchases products containing soft commodities such as palm oil, soy, cacao, coffee, beef/leather, timber, paper & pulp and are looking to create transparency in the supply chain to fight deforestation – do reach out to us.  


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