As the world looks for new ways to reduce carbon emissions and improve biodiversity, one innovative business is looking to space for answers.

The company, Gentian, provides biodiversity and ecological data analysis using artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms and satellite images. The company’s technology uses machine learning and remote sensing data to create habitat maps which can be used to:

  • Evaluate biodiversity
  • Assess urban areas for climate adaptation
  • Identify building retrofitting opportunities
  • Help with compliance


Gentian’s proprietary and scalable technology is adaptable to many different types of datasets, which allows the company to serve diverse sectors, including construction, infrastructure development, government, large public and private corporations, and agriculture.

The data can help clients improve environmental transparency and ESG credentials and can support organisations in aligning with new UK legislation requiring biodiversity net gains (BNG) in development projects.

Assessing nature from space

The accuracy of satellite imagery is growing exponentially while the cost is decreasing. This allows nature to be measured from space using low-cost, high-resolution images which give an accurate measurement of habitat cover, rather than the data being collected by individuals in the field, which is more time consuming and potentially less detailed.

Founder and CTO, Thomas Fenal, says: “We take satellite or aerial imagery and allow the algorithm to develop an AI model that’s suitable for the problem we're trying to solve – or to actually define the problem, which sometimes requires some expertise. We then process this data to transform it into actionable information.

“We're able to categorise the vegetation cover into different habitat types which we can associate with some biodiversity value. Rather than counting species on the ground, you are looking at ecosystems and habitat to try to assess them and their condition as a proxy.”

Gentian’s technology recently received special recognition at the Innovate UK Business Connect ‘Ignite Labs: Space for Nature and Biodiversity’ event series, produced in partnership with NatWest and led by the Satellite Applications Catapult. The series brought together a wide range of companies leveraging satellite technologies for environmental solutions.

Accepting the recognition, Gentian’s Vice President of Business Development, Jamie Rhodes, said: "Being recognised at the Ignite Labs series propels Gentian further into our mission to revolutionise how businesses measure and monitor their impact on nature.

“It reaffirms our belief in technology's role in bridging the gap between commercial activities and sustainable environmental stewardship. We're more committed than ever to developing accessible data that empowers financial institutions, and the corporations they support, to make informed, responsible decisions for our planet's future."

Providing data at scale

Formed in 2020, Gentian’s technology was originally designed  to map vegetated roofs in urban areas but has since been adapted to widen the potential use cases to looking at habitats at scale in rural areas. The company is now exploring opportunities with financial institutions to use data for assessing nature-related risks and integrating biodiversity metrics into financial reporting frameworks like the Taskforce on Nature-Related Financial Disclosures (TNFD).

Jamie says: “It's clear now that investors and other stakeholders are not just looking for very broad statements on environmental impact and biodiversity – they're looking for accurate data.

“Net zero is very important, but it’s just as important to protect the natural world. It won’t matter how much carbon dioxide you take out of the atmosphere if there are no animals or plants left to keep the ecosystem going. That’s why biodiversity is so important.”

Based in London, Gentian is expanding internationally with a subsidiary in the US and plans to extend its reach to Europe and Asia and expand the sectors they can serve.

Thomas adds: “There is still quite a large gap of readily available data at scale, and that's where we are really trying to make a difference.”

Do you want to learn more about how satellite technology could help your business? Discover how we are using satellite data to assess solar potential.

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