Maritime Analytics Startup Wins Contract From Space Agency

By Bruce Harpham Thursday, December 17, 2020

Global Spatial Technology Solutions (GSTS) has been selected by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to develop AI prediction technology to reduce maritime risks such as illegal fishing and collisions. The company won the project through the Canadian Space Agency's smartEarth program. The financial terms of the award were not disclosed. The CSA has an annual budget of $273 million CAD ($212 million USD) in 2020-2021.

Global Spatial Technology Solutions By The Numbers

  • Funding. GSTS has approximately $4.3 million in funding from three investors: Sustainable Development Technology Canada, Ecofuel, and Innovacorp. Sustainable Development Technology Canada is a foundation established with funding from the Canadian Government. While Ecofuel and Innovacorp are both venture capital funds, Ecofuel has received funding from Canadian governments and Innovacorp invests in early-stage technology companies in eastern Canada.
  • Revenue.  GSTS does not disclose its total revenue. However, the company won a $2.94 million CAD ($2.29 million USD) contract from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) in January 2020.  Given its focus on significant shipping and maritime activity, future contracts will likely be in the seven-figure range and higher.
  • Employees. Established in 2005, Global Spatial Technology Solutions has about twenty employees today. Based on the company's hiring plans for a market research analyst, it is clear that it is focused on expansion.

GSTS Validating Its Products With Canadian Customers

GSTS is currently doing business with Canadian governments and industries for its OCIANA™ product. OCIANA helps organizations with maritime vessel management by optimizing vessel traffic and reducing fuel consumption.

On the government side, GSTS is working with a Naval Re-Supply Vessel, a port authority, and a shipping line. While their early deployments are focused on validating the product's benefits, these efforts are expected to be completed in 2021.

The Next Billion-Dollar Industry — Maritime Analytics

While Global Spatial Technology Solutions has new technology and excellent connections in Canada, it faces competition from other maritime analytics players. According to ResearchAndMarkets.com, the maritime analytics market is worth more than $800 million already, and it will soon surpass the $1 billion mark.

Major companies in the maritime analytics market include:

  • ExactEarth Ltd. Based in Canada, exactEarth earned $13 million CAD ($10 million USD) in the first nine months of 2020, up 17% compared to the same period of 2019.
  • IHS Markit. A global data company, IHS Markit, earned approximately $4 billion last year. In addition to maritime analytics, IHS sells research and data to companies and governments around the world.
  • Windward Limited. Based in Israel, Windward has an annual revenue of about $3 million and fifty employees. Windward has $32 million in investor funding.
  • Spark Cognition Inc. This Texas-based AI startup has approximately $1 million in annual revenue.

Managing Risk at Sea

Maritime trade is subject to constant risks of loss. That's one reason why maritime insurance is such a large industry. GSTS is setting up to help sailors leap forward in their ability to avoid hazards at sea.

"OCIANA Risk detects anomalous ship behaviors such as course and speed irregularities, irregular rendezvous or vessels going dark – which can indicate illegal activity such as piracy, smuggling or regulatory non-compliance," explains Richard Kolacz, CEO of GSTS.

The product also helps vessels avoid entering marine protected areas and minimize the chance of collision. Despite the vast size of the world's seas, maritime collision remains a significant problem. From 2011 to 2018, over 600 lives have been lost in maritime collisions. In addition to these human losses, collisions cause delays in maritime shipping and expensive damage.

Coping With COVID-19

Even though GSTS creates products for ships at sea, the company still has to cope with problems on the ground like the COVID-19 pandemic.

"STS, like most other companies, responded quickly to COVID-19 with the initial shut down and enabling all employees to work remotely. The challenge we faced, like so many, was in acquiring PPE and opening up additional space enabling us to provide all employees a safe and protected self-distanced workspace; happily, we can advise this is now in place for the long term," commented Richard Kolacz, CEO of GSTS.

About the Author


Headshot for author Bruce Harpham

Bruce Harpham is an author and marketing consultant based in Canada. His first book "Project Managers At Work" shared real-world success lessons from NASA, Google, and other organizations. His articles have been published in CIO.com, InfoWorld, Canadian Business, and other organizations. Visit BruceHarpham.com for articles, interviews with tech leaders, and updates on future books.

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