Main Sequence, Steve Baxter back defence surveillance startup in $4.45m Seed round

- December 4, 2023 2 MIN READ
A defence tech startup that helps drones and airborne surveillance craft “see” better has raised $4.45 million in a Seed round.

The investment in Arkeus was led by CSIRO deep tech VC Main Sequence, with participation from Steve Baxter’s new defence-focus fund, Beaten Zone Venture Partners, and Salus Ventures.

The capital is allocated towards scaling manufacturing and enhance the capabilities of the startup’s Hyperspectral Optical Radar (HS-OR), which is designed to give customers the ability to ‘see’, understand and act on their environment in real time. It can work on land, sea, air and satellites.

The startup is initially focused on use cases in search, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions for defence, search and rescue, firefighting and police operations.

Arkeus CEO and co-founder Simon Olsen said that in high-risk environments, first responders need to make split-second decisions based on their knowledge of the landscape, objects and people around them, using data from a wide range of visible and non-visible light spectra with autonomous capabilities too.

“In high consequence situations where every second counts, defence and emergency responders are often hampered by outdated sensors built for a narrow range of light wavelengths,” he said.

“Arkeus is pioneering a new way of sensing, built from the ground up to overcome these limitations and deliver mission-critical information at the point of contact.”

Olsen, a defence expert, cofounded Arkeus in Melbourne three years ago with aerospace engineer Dr Jonathan Nebauer.

The startup has landed multiple defence contracts for its autonomous optics technology and believes its AI-powered customisable systems can be applied to other surveillance tasks such as disaster recovery, search and rescue missions, border security, and more.

Main Sequence investment manager Alezeia Brown said the business has shown versatility solving operational needs in both the defence and commercial sectors.

“Their novel approach of combining hyperspectral imaging, radar, and AI has tremendous potential to save lives by giving first responders greater situational awareness,” she said.

Arkeus was part of the Avalon Airshow earlier this year with support from Victorian government.