Stockholm-founded startup Ignitia, which claims to be the world’s first hyper-local tropical weather forecaster, has landed $1.1 million in funding at a valuation of $11 million. The Silicon Valley-based investment firm Hack VC led the round, with participation from FINCA Ventures and the Norrsken Foundation.
Ignitia works in three West African countries—Ghana, Mali, Nigeria—to provide hyper-local weather forecast for over 450 000 active subscribers, mostly farmers. Delivered by SMS, the forecasts have an accuracy of 84 percent for areas as small as 3 km². The company has partnered with some major telcos in the region to pinpoint its customers’ location in order to provide personalised weather predictions.
Currently, many tropical regions are poorly covered by weather forecasting agencies, Ignitia founder Liisa Smits told Tech.eu. The existing services are wrong more often than right, while conventional forecasting methods might not work at all due to a much smaller scale of changes that can be seen on satellite imagery in the tropics.
“The algorithm is where our main innovation lies,” said Smits, a physicist with an experience in researching climate change using satellite imagery. “When I realised how many people [in West Africa] didn’t have access to an accurate weather forecast, I saw it as a challenge.”
The forecasts put together by Ignitia aim to help farmers make better-informed decisions and improve their farming practices. To make them as accurate as possible, the company analyses satellite data received from public and private sources.
“We’re really impressed by what Liisa and her team have built,” said Tove Larsson, investment manager at the Norrsken Foundation. “It’s an example of how deep tech can bring a positive change to the lives of millions of people.”
Ignitia will use the capital injection to scale on its biggest market, Nigeria. It is also exploring a new business model by partnering with a seed company that would bundle the forecast into its offering.
In the photo: Liisa Smits, founder and CEO of Ignitia