UrtheCast is developing and launching the first continuous HD video stream of Earth, from the International Space Station (ISS).
Headquartered in Vancouver, BC, Canada, UrtheCast trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) under the ticker symbol 'UR'.
In partnership with leading space organizations such as the Russian Space Agency, UrtheCast is launching two cameras to the ISS fall 2013, making it the only provider of near realtime HD Earth video from space.
Following the camera launch and installation, UrtheCast will begin streaming Earth imagery to its data partners and the interactive UrtheCast web platform, which is being developed in San Francisco.
For the first time, the world will have access to dynamic, high-resolution video of Earth, for purposes ranging from environmental monitoring to broadcasting. To accomplish this, 1-meter resolution video and 5-meter resolution still imagery of the Earth below the ISS will be captured, streamed, collected, and distributed to UrtheCast’s data partners.
UrtheCast continues to partner with agencies that specialize in natural disaster relief, environmental monitoring, media broadcasting, and more. From forest fire detection to agricultural monitoring, UrtheCast‘s HD data reduces operating costs and helps data partners leverage the world’s largest Low Earth Orbit satellite, the ISS.
The Big Picture: Wade Larson at TEDxWaterloo http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=CgHkPhn-494 http://www.youtube.com/user/Urthecast/videos?shelf_id=1&view=0&sort=dd Business Plan
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The imagery and video data generated from UrtheCast’s cameras are expected to be used to generate revenue from
conventional EO data sales and new media opportunities. Conventional data sales are made up of exclusive video
coverage and EO imagery and data sales. New media opportunities include web platform advertising and sales of
third party software applications. Social media is expected to play a major role in the anticipated new media
revenues as the web platform is currently being designed to be user-friendly with an emphasis on mass-market
appeal. Below is a description of each anticipated revenue stream and the underlying target market. As with any
developing technology company, there are unidentified revenue streams that will surface as the company grows. 1. Institutional Revenue Streams:
EO Data Sales
The market for EO data sales is a well-established and growing industry. In 2010, the EO market was
valued at approximately $1.3 billion and is forecasted to reach approximately $4 billion by 2020. As
remote sensing becomes more affordable and technologically advanced, demand for EO data is expected to
increase. Organisations are realizing the benefits of having such imagery data available to them, and global
collaborations with companies such as UrtheCast are expected to spark creativity and growth in the
commercial space sector to find additional uses for EO data and related content.
In addition, government customers have consistent and on-going requirements for EO imagery to supervise
and manage, among other things, resources, animal migrations and national borders. EO observation data is
also used by government agencies and non-governmental organizations to track environmental changes,
natural disasters and human conflicts. UrtheCast expects to realize significant price flexibility resulting
from the unique benefits of its business model and video offering. UrtheCast imagery is expected to be
generated from a complementary non-sun synchronous orbit, which is the industry standard.
UrtheCast intends to offer its imagery and video feeds to news organisations and other entities with large
content requirements. For example, should the cameras be covering a geographic region when an
earthquake or tsunami hits, that content can be sold to news agencies wishing to have exclusive coverage.
UrtheCast believes its near real-time video and flexible pricing will be both unique and attractive to the
Value-Added Information Services
UrtheCast also anticipates expanding into the value-added information services segment. UrtheCast expects
to focus initially on those products and services which best take advantage of its proprietary imagery
characteristics. These areas could include 3D mapping, change detection, and other enhanced product
derivatives and services. 2. Consumer Revenue Streams
Web Platform Advertising
UrtheCast believes that Internet usage of social media and video sharing web services remains a large and
growing marketplace. A Nielsen study reports that time spent on the Internet was up 21% from July 2011 to
July 2012. UrtheCast’s web platform is anticipated to combine robust personalized social media search,
discovery and sharing features together with constantly updated and dynamic imagery of the Earth. Earth
imagery is widely used in a growing list of consumer facing web services such as Google Maps and Bing
Maps, among others. UrtheCast believes consumers will be interested in a continuously updated imagery
layer.UrtheCast believes that monetization opportunities for webservices will increase once consumer
engagement, value and audience traffic is created. These opportunities include traditional banner ads,
category sponsorship, as well as more innovative embedded video techniques within video feeds and
A study prepared by eMarketer.com predicted that digital advertising will comprise nearly 22% of total
media spending by 2015 and that the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America will lead the world in online
spending growth. UrtheCast believes it can provide companies in these emerging markets with affordable
and efficient access to global audiences. UrtheCast expects that with UrtheCast.com, advertisers can cover
their local and regional markets, as well as expand to markets in Europe, North America, and elsewhere
around the world.
Application Platform Sales
UrtheCast is exploring the process of building an online platform for consumers to purchase software
applications developed and uploaded by third party developers. It is expected, when these applications are
sold via UrtheCast’s web platform, UrtheCast will earn a percentage of revenue, with the remainder going
to the developer. This revenue model and the market for similar applications has been well established by
platforms like Apple Inc.’s App Store and Facebook Inc.’s Facebook Platform for third-party developers.
UrtheCast believes that end-users and developers will be the force that ultimately drives UrtheCast’s web
platform. While strict demographically-based market segmentation is ordinarily used as a technique for
defining market strategy, UrtheCast’s strategy is based on the opposite: to attract as diverse a group of
users as possible. The market is only limited by access to the Internet.
Marketing Plan and Strategy
UrtheCast expects to market itself using direct marketing, such as conferences and trade shows that focus on new
technology, internet-based communications and space-related activities, as well as contests rewarding innovative
technologies in space and social media marketing. Social media has been, and will continue to be, the main focus of
UrtheCast’s marketing strategy. UrtheCast intends to integrate its web platform with social media sites like
Facebook.com and Twitter.com to build a significant social presence. UrtheCast also intends to use its current blog
to communicate with its expected customers. The UrtheCast blog currently focuses on topics such as education, the
environment, the ISS and other space-related activities and is also used to present information pertaining to
UrtheCast, such as contest or competition winners and news from trade shows.
Monetization and Pricing
UrtheCast web monetization is early in is evolution and pricing and monetization remains highly subject to ultimate
consumer engagement levels which are not known today. UrtheCast anticipates much of its baseline web services
will be offered directly to consumers free of charge (such as the video feed, user registration, some software
applications, and access to the content database) while other services are expected to be offered on a “freemium” or
Specialized Skill and Knowledge
UrtheCast’s team is comprised of leading imaging technology, aerospace and web services professionals who are
passionate about realizing UrtheCast’s vision to provide near-real time HD video from the ISS via advanced
technology and a web-based delivery platform. UrtheCast’s management and employees have extensive experience
and longstanding working relationships with the Canadian and Russian space agencies and MDA, Canada’s leading
UrtheCast’s proposed products and services are expected to compete with satellite and aerial imagery and related
value-added products and services offered by a range of private providers including DigitalGlobe, Inc., Astrium
Geo-Information Services, ImageSat International N.V., Skybox Imaging, Inc., Blackbridge as well as numerous
aggregators of imagery and imagery-related products and services, including Google and Microsoft. Foreign
governments, including India, South Korea and Taiwan also sell their data commercially. In addition, UrtheCast
expects to compete against aerial providers of high-resolution imagery.
UrtheCast’s competitive advantages are expected to include price flexibility as a result of its “hosted’ platform, high
barriers to entry due to the limited locations to mount cameras aboard the ISS and the significant costs of launching
a new satellite, exclusive and strong partnerships, as well as its unique near real-time high resolution video offering.
UrtheCast also believes that it has a distinctive cost-performance advantage over other space-based observation
platforms. Unlike other traditional EO satellites that must be self-sufficient and provide their own power, guidance,
data downlink storage and communication systems, UrtheCast expects to benefit from existing systems already in
place on the ISS and maintained by its partners. Further, other EO satellite systems only operate for a certain
percentage of their orbits to allow for re-charging and data transfer, whereas the ISS provides abundant power,
which is expected to allow UrtheCast’s cameras to operate continuously. Launch and maintenance costs in the
shared ISS environment are also considerably less due to such costs being shared by the national space agencies that
participate in the ISS project. These features, combined with the cameras’ advanced technologies, are expected to
provide UrtheCast with the ability to create an immediate worldwide market presence at a disruptive cost.
UrtheCast has structured strategic relationships with global leaders in space technology, imaging, and advance
imagery data processing. Specifically, an exclusive joint venture agreement has been established with Russia’s
Energia, and RAL of the United Kingdom has been contracted to build the cameras. Canada’s MDA has been
contracted for continuing systems engineering, the cameras’ data compression units, and other related space
UrtheCast has signed a unique and exclusive contract with Energia, which has full operational control for
the Russian segment on the ISS. Energia has committed to providing the prelaunch preparation, launch,
installation, and maintenance of the cameras on the Russian segment of the ISS. An original Memorandum
of Understanding was signed early in 2011, followed by a joint venture agreement in the spring of 2011.
This was followed up with an official sealed resolution issued by Roscosmos in October 2011. This
resolution officially mandated the joint venture with UrtheCast and Energia. A technical contract was
entered into in the spring of 2012. This contract is an operational document that is continually updated
during engineering sessions.
UrtheCast’s Russian partners will make significant ‘in-kind’ contributions to the cost of the project, such as
hardware integration, crew training, hardware delivery to the ISS, provision of a pointing platform,
maintenance, extra vehicular space walks, power supply to the cameras and ISS real estate. In return for
Energia’s contributions to the project, Roscosmos and other Russian Government agencies will receive all
the non-commercial rights and imagery of Russia for the life of the project.
RAL is part of the United Kingdom’s Science and Technology Facilities Council and has been contracted
to build and test the camera lenses and other imaging technology solutions. RAL provides world-leading
space research and technology with a focus on designing, testing and building instruments. RAL also offers
space test facilities, instrument and mission design and studies of science and technology requirements for
new space missions.
MDA is Canada’s premier space company responsible for the Canadarm on NASA’s space shuttles and the
ISS. MDA is building various space electronics to work in conjunction with the cameras. In particular,
MDA is building the compression units that are attached to the front-end telescopes and a data handling
unit that is situated inside the ISS. The compression units are attached to the telescopes and compress the
data before it is then relayed to the downlink and down to Earth.