ARCHIVED - Iunctus Geomatics Corp. Lethbridge, Alberta
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March 15, 2007— Ottawa, Ontario
Not long ago, if you wanted to purchase a satellite image, you would have to buy the whole shebang – the images in the size and format that the satellite company provided, with a price tag to match. But what if a project needed only a snippet of the whole vast picture, or a particular spot in a particular format to suit project specific needs – that's what three students at the University of Lethbridge wondered. What if there was an affordable spatial database that could pinpoint certain areas on a geomatic image and that users could share?
The seed of innovation was planted. In just five years, that idea has become a successful business. Iunctus has the capability of providing geomatic services and software to support industry-specific solutions. Expertise includes the application and processing of imagery, as well as the development of software and systems needed to optimize a client's exploitation of geospatial information.
"We knew our software worked to manage large amounts of geodata, but we had no idea how to plan a business strategy or how to get our idea growing," says Ryan Johnson, President of Iunctus. "We had heard of the National Research Council Canada's Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP). If NRC-IRAP weren't here, Iunctus wouldn't have happened. They helped us make business decisions, confirmed that our software could be applied and that we weren't reinventing the wheel."
"NRC-IRAP was a sounding board on how to go about the process, and also supplied us with financial support so we could search for matching dollars to start up," continues Ryan. "It gave us the stamp of approval and the credibility needed to open doors for further funding and access to potential clients."
The big business turnabout for Iunctus began when a client asked if Iunctus could sell him a SPOT image – SPOT Image being a satellite group based in Toulouse, France. "We found out that the exclusive rights to provide Canadian customers with worldwide imagery from the SPOT constellation of satellites were up for sale," says Ryan. "We didn't have the cash flow, but it fitted perfectly into our plan to grow. So we brought the management of SPOT to Canada, demonstrated our software and SPOT was sold."
With the exclusive rights to SPOT imagery in Canada, Iunctus knew it now needed the infrastructure for image delivery to their clients. They had to bring another partner on board – a telecommunications company with high-band, high-speed capacity transmission. Iunctus approached Telus, which jumped on board. "The partnership with TELUS provides us with the infrastructure and track record of delivery that our professional clients require," says Ryan.
He continues, "All during this time, NRC-IRAP stood behind us. This helped us swing the deals we needed. Timing of funding is crucial. Even if we could have raised support from another group like a development bank, that funding often takes years to get. We received NRC-IRAP support in just a few months, when we really needed it."
The applications of the imagery that Iunctus provides are wide and varied. For example, the impacts of floods, forest fires, earthquakes and other natural diseases around the world are forcing companies to seek new prevention and mitigation methods. For this purpose, the acquisition of regularly updated, reliable and objective spatially reference information is a necessity. Besides disaster management, the technology can also be used effectively in agriculture, exploration, flight simulation, telecommunications, urban planning, water resources and mapping.
Iunctus is continually expanding its distribution rights and is building the infrastructure and partnerships to do so. One of the biggest steps forward is the establishment of the first commercial ground receiving station in Canada. Ryan explains that the ground receiving station should allow Iunctus to secure future satellite distribution rights.
"We couldn't have built our company without the support of our local investors and programs like NRC-IRAP. IRAP funding has been very important to our growth but the other support in business development, business plan review, mentoring, and IP protection is what makes our relationship with IRAP so effective," says Ryan.
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