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How Gentian is monitoring biodiversity and scaling green infrastructure with AI and remote sensing

green roofs
Image credit: Wix

According to London-based startup Gentian, measuring the Earth from space has become all the more common as the cost of satellite imagery continues to decrease and the accuracy rises. Whether it be for ocean monitoring, land-habitat assessments, or looking out for natural disasters, satellite imagery is now one of the most ubiquitous ways to assess our world. 

However, as climate change increasingly accelerates the biodiversity crisis, scientists and startups are using data to track ecosystem changes and develop tools for conserving life. One of these startups is Gentian, and with a recent $1.6 million pre-seed funding round, the company is using its tech to not only fight against the biodiversity crisis but to accelerate urban green infrastructure by analyzing for retrofit potential and mapping and monitoring green roofs. 

The round was led by Ecolab, an American food safety company that focuses on water, hygiene, and infection prevention, and also saw participation from Techstars, Blu Venture Investors, gener8tor, PAX Momentum, and Undivided Ventures.

With this funding, the company hopes to make a tangible impact on global sustainability. As Gentian CEO Daniel White said via the startup’s LinkedIn, "We're not just talking about change; we're making it happen."

“With the support of our investors, we are poised to make a significant contribution to global sustainability efforts,” he expanded in a statement. “Our remote sensing AI delivers environmental intelligence that accelerates ecosystem restoration and resilience.”

“As COP28 comes to an end, we are reminded of the urgency of our mission and the potential of our technology to make a real difference,” he added referencing the 28th Conference of the Parties on Climate Change (COP28) that recently closed in Dubai. Key outcomes from the summit on the conservation side include China joining 115 other countries in calling for 30% of the Earth to be legally protected lands by 2030, and countries working to integrate the ambitions of COP15 on Biodiversity that happened last year ahead of next year’s summit, which will be held in Columbia. 

As Gentian’s funding comes on the heels of COP28 and before COP16, the startup’s ambitions align with agendas set by both. Additionally, as Biodiversity Regulations become mandatory from November 2023 in the United Kingdom, requiring all new developments to demonstrate a biodiversity net gain of 10%, the company’s tech is even more essential in England and beyond. 

For the last two years, the company has been developing its tech with support from the UK and European Space Agency. Now, with state-of-the-art deep learning methods, Gentian uses AI to convert high-resolution imagery from urban and rural landscapes to actionable insights. 

One cool case study from the company is its partnership with the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, where Gentian created an accurate record of existing green roofs, which is needed to maintain them, and created a record of buildings with the potential to be retrofitted with a biosolar roof — a combination of vegetation and solar panels – and calculated the potential renewable energy output.

With Gentian’s green roof analysis, the borough has the chance to install them in ideal locations to reduce the effects of the urban heat island or stormwater runoff. Additionally, with the startup’s retrofit analysis, the borough also has the opportunity to make informed decisions about where its budget would be best deployed to achieve its sustainability efforts. 

“We’ve sought scalable solutions that align with Undivided's vision of a resilient urban future in the face of climate adversity,” Alexander Bent, managing partner at Undivided Ventures said in a statement, “Gentian embodies this vision, and we're committed to championing their growth.”

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