Bristol innovator breaks down barriers to satellite intelligence

James Cortis
Content Producer | Business West
4th November 2020

A Bristol innovator delivering satellite-based intelligence on everything from air quality to population mapping is set to begin a new phase of growth. 

4 Earth Intelligence (4EI) works with satellite operators to deliver environmental, geospatial and other insights for the likes of government agencies and large corporate firms. 

“A big part of what we’re doing is taking satellite technology and trying to make it easy to interpret and use,” said Richard Flemmings, CTO, 4EI. “We’re a very technical industry and we’re trying to break those barriers down, getting satellite data out to a wide variety of end users.”

One of the company’s flagship projects was a cutting-edge, award-winning environmental mapping product, created in the Middle East in 2014. 

“I joined 4EI to deliver that project when we were just three people; we’re now up to 35 and still working closely with that client. We have offices out in Abu Dhabi and regularly support our customers there in delivering innovation projects.” 

Asked how remote working is affecting the business, Richard says; “well I initially trained in cartography and spent a lot of time on boats and aircrafts, gathering information to build maps. The beauty of satellites is that you can understand assets from all over the world without actually having to visit them. For customers, there’s all sorts of cost savings associated with that, but particularly this year, the remote aspect is obviously quite powerful. However, we did have to re-structure our internal processes in response to Covid, and that’s where we turned to Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) for help.”

European Enterprise Network (EEN), funded by Innovate UK and delivered by Business West, had already supported 4EI in refining an IP audit, ensuring that as it grew, its assets remained secure. When the pandemic struck, 4EI moved onto a more holistic support structure. 

“We were able to tailor support to our needs and initially decided to focus on leadership and growth,” says Richard. “It was absolutely brilliant. When Covid hit, we had to design a new set of structures and ways of working; and it was very useful to have an external advisor that could tease all the right things out of us and give us best practice guidance. It’s something I hope we use EEN more for as we grow in the future.”

EEN Advisor, Dee Temple-Multon, has also assisted in sign-posting 4EI onto a number of sales training workshops focused on targeting international audiences, which has helped refine strategies for lead generation.

“On top of that, Dee is constantly pushing new funding and collaboration opportunities our way,” continues Richard. “We’re a niche company ingrained in our own stuff so it’s just great to have someone looking out for you, using the network and helping to find relevant opportunities.” 

The company is now preparing for its next phase of growth, aiming to scale up rapidly in the next 1-2 years, depending on how its services evolve.

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