Man-made sources of methane emissions account for 8 billion tons of CO2-equivalent and 446,000 premature deaths through respiratory diseases, every year. While emissions from agriculture, landfills and mining are hard to reduce, cutting methane from oil and gas operations is today’s fastest and most effective way to mitigate climate change. Thus, oil and gas operators’ need to report and reduce their methane emissions (such as leaking natural gas) is rapidly growing with new regulations and shareholder pressure.
Furthermore, large differences in methane emissions on asset-, company-, regional-, and supply chain-level create a strong need for buyers and financial institutions to make better-informed decisions on implied methane risks in their supply chains and portfolios. However, the big bottleneck to a low-methane energy transition is a severe lack of trustworthy, measurement-based methane data, especially on the huge scales of global and remote oil and gas assets.
Orbio leverages the power of satellite data and data fusion algorithms to provide trustworthy and actionable methane intelligence for emission reductions and benchmarking efforts. Our proprietary algorithms analyse non-methane-specific remote sensing data to create a world-first combination of high-frequent, asset-level and global scale methane emissions data for any location on earth.
Aggregating the cross-validated methane data on asset, company and supply chain levels allows procurement managers, ESG analysts, asset managers and operators to analyse emissions and reduction opportunities, benchmark companies and make more transparent buying decisions for low-methane oil and gas products.
Where did the idea originate?
With Roberts experience using remote sensing data for climate change mitigation and adaptation use-cases, and especially his research projects at the agriculture division of NASA – NASA Harvest, he has been exposed to the immense potentials of this technology. On the other side, Jack had an in-depth problem discovery with methane emissions when he conducted a consulting project for methane emissions on Shell’s LNG tankers.
Combining the customer needs and technological experiences in the run up to the Venture Catalyst Challenge (VCC) at Imperial was the birth moment for Orbio. Jack and I studied our Environmental Technology degree with the aim to build exciting tools for people to mitigate climate change. Our postgraduate program was a clear inspiration to put impact and climate change mitigation at the forefront of our mission.
How did the team meet?
We met on the MSc in Environmental Technology at Imperial. We iterated a few ideas for startups during and after the course and stayed in contact beyond. In the run up to the VCC, we discovered the methane problem and since then have been fully focused on this challenge.
Do you have any advisors?
One of our advisors is Jia Chen, professor at TU Munich, who was engaged over some shared research interests and we have a couple of non-official advisors and mentors from Google SDG Advisor program. David Sanders and Ian Edmondson are also two of our advisors through the Imperial Venture Mentoring Service.
Where are you now and where do you plan to be?
We are in the middle of the testing stage, learning, iterating, building, doing small scale selling, and are focussing on developing product market fit with live products. We have just closed our €600k pre-seed round, led by impact VC Satgana which we will be using to further develop our technology stack and find a solution fit for our key target markets.
What support have you had from Imperial?
The first advice programme we participated in was the Ideas Surgery in 2020. Here, we got challenged to think about an idea. By being listened to and challenged, you suddenly realise: “Hey, I am taken serious with my stuff. I could do something like this”.
We also participated in Experts-in-Residence in 2021, which was to-date probably one of the most useful resources we were able to get support from. Getting so much dedicated time and support from such a great bunch of super diverse subject experts helped us shape, distill, iterate, validate our idea, business model, team building strategy, marketing campaigns, grant applications, sales negotiations and customer discovery process.
We also participated in VCC in 2021, which was the ignition of our business journey. We got forced to sit together and think through our idea from start to finish in a fairly short matter of time. This really forced us to take the paper-based idea into a professional environment. Being forced to present your idea and content to a wide audience is exactly the out-of-comfort-zone push and first-step we needed to go onto this beautiful journey!
In 2021 we also joined the Climate Launchpad. Just like VCC, a dense program to dive deep into the topic. Climate Launchpad helped us think again from a climate impact angle which was helpful.
Lastly, we participated in the Imperial Venture Mentoring Service in 2022, where we met with two recurring subject-matter experts that are there to provide very specific key advice especially on business development. This helped us focus our sales negotiations, discuss tactics, and define priorities for us and the business.
What’s been your biggest success and challenge so far?
Our biggest success so far is delivering a few valuable pilots to big corporates in our target markets and building a stellar team. On the other hand, our biggest challenge was getting the technology and global-scale processing of satellite data for trustable methane detection and quantification right. It is super complex and deep research was needed over long stretches of time, but we are slowly getting there!
What advice would you give an aspiring entrepreneur?
Biggest lesson for us was the need to commit towards building a company and not resting in the “if I have a good idea, then…” status. If you know why you want to build a company (for us: build exciting tools to help people mitigate climate change) and you have the right partner to do so, go for it, iterate, and you will find yourself on a great journey.