Using weather forecasts in business models

“It’s too cold, it’s too warm, it’s too rainy, it’s too windy”. How often do you hear people complaining about the weather? Everybody talks about it all the time, but nobody really does anything about it. At Mergeflow, we were curious to learn more about innovations in the area of weather forecasting.  Are there significant VC investments? What type of patents or new devices are particularly relevant?

VC investments

In the graph below, you can see that there have been several VC investments over the last few years:

Since the beginning of 2017, we saw three investments: Satellogic, a remote imaging analytics company; Taranis, a precision agriculture platform; and Opti, a stormwater monitoring platform:

 

 

Patents

In weather forecasting patents, we focused on applications of weather forecasting in the area of power networks. So we ran a search for patents with at least the following two patent classes:

  • G01W — meteorology
  • Y04S — Systems related to power network operation

When you look at the companies that have been assigned patents in this area, Clean Power Research sticks out:

Most of their patents relate to photovoltaic fleet management, i.e. they use weather data to measure and optimize the output of photovoltaic energy generation systems.

We also ran another search in patents, this time directly for “weather forecasting”. Here, among many other patents, we found two patents that made us particularly curious:

Both patents are assigned to Ningbo Lixinke Information Technologies from China. Unfortunately we could not find any pictures of any of these two devices. We would really have liked to see what these devices look like.

Technology licensing offers

Finally, we also looked at technology licensing offers from worldwide universities and other R&D organizations. We found a range of analytics and sensor technologies. However, a tech offering that particularly grabbed our attention came out of ESA, the European Space Agency:

Growth management model: A model to predict and optimize the growth and healthy development of crops.

The contractor who developed the model is the Dutch company Groen Agro Control.

The goal here is to have “an accurate crop production planning tool for manned space missions”. If you have read “The Martian”, or seen the movie, this probably reminds you of Mark Whatney’s potato growing efforts on Mars. For those of you who do not know who Mark Whatney is: he is the best botanist on the planet:

(you can watch a video here)