Tech behemoth Google has led an investment round worth $36 million in series B funding in Bengaluru-based spacetech startup Pixxel, making it the first investment of the Alphabet-owned company in the Indian space sector.

Pixxel, which claims to be a leader in cutting-edge hyperspectral earth-imaging technology, said it has secured $36M in Series B funding from Google and a clutch of other existing investors, including Radical Ventures, Lightspeed, Blume Ventures, growx, Sparta and Athera.

Awais Ahmed, co-founder and CEO, Pixxel, said the funding doesn't only represent capital, but it signifies trust in the company's capability to make a difference. "To build not just satellites, but a future where we can monitor and nurture our planet's health in real-time."

He said the startup has always aimed to venture where no company has gone before. " our case by creating a constellation of the world's highest resolution hyperspectral satellites. This funding is fuel to propel us further and faster in that direction."

With the latest investment round, Pixxel’s venture funding now totals $71 million. The new investors join existing backers like Lightspeed, Radical Ventures, Accenture Ventures, Relativity’s Jordan Noone, Seraphim Capital, Ryan Johnson, Blume Ventures, Sparta LLC, growX Ventures, Athera Venture Partners, Omnivore VC, among others.

Pixxel says the new funds will advance its mission to build the world’s first and highest-resolution hyperspectral satellite constellation, delivering actionable climate insights on a planetary scale. "It will also help further the development of Aurora: Pixxel’s AI-powered analytics platform to make hyperspectral analysis accessible for everyone."

Data from Pixxel’s satellites will be critical in helping global organisations closely monitor emissions, water pollution, gas leaks, oil spills, soil composition, forest biodiversity, and crop health in unprecedented detail and at faster speeds, said the company.

Notably, Pixxel’s hyperspectral satellites can capture images at hundreds of wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum and reveal key data about the health of the planet. The hyperspectral constellation and advanced data analytics platform will provide up to 10x more information compared to today’s multispectral satellites in space and increase the spectral resolution available by 50x, claims the company.

Pixxel recently launched three pathfinder missions into orbit and grew its customer base by 5x. Recently, it also announced a five-year contract with the NRO Commercial Systems Program Office (CSPO) for the strategic commercial enhancements for commercial hyperspectral capabilities programme.

Google is investing heavily in India. At Google for India in December 2022, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the company is making progress in its $10 billion, 10-year India Digitisation Fund (IDF). "That includes our efforts to build a single, unified AI model that will be capable of handling over 100 Indian languages across speech and text – part of our global effort to bring the world’s 1,000 most-spoken languages online and to help people access knowledge and information in their preferred language. We’re also supporting a new, multidisciplinary center for responsible AI with IIT Madras," said Pichai.

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