International Business

Drone data firm reaches for the sky

  • Growing internationally: pictured, from left, are members of the Skymatics team, Vadim Deryabin, Nikoo Sabzevar, EJ Burrows, Cassidy Rankine, Samantha Malach Verlann (Photograph supplied)
  • Eye in the sky: Skymatics drones monitor crops for farmers

A Bermudian-born company that uses high-tech drones to produce useful data for the agricultural and construction industries has launched a new product to help with crop insurance claims.

Skymatics, a Canadian-based sister company of Bermuda Aerial Media, was founded by Bermudian entrepreneurs EJ Burrows and Connor Burns.

This year it was nominated for Product of the Year by Tecterra, a Canadian non-profit organisation that assists small Alberta companies with the use of geomatics technology.

The product in question was SkyClaim, software designed to help farmers and insurance companies to better assess crop insurance claims — and to help speed up the process through the use of drone data.

Skymatics has grown strongly from its Bermuda roots and now has clients in 46 countries. It offers drone data services for use in activities including agriculture, construction, emergency response and surveying.

Mr Burrows said of SkyClaim: “Commercial farming is a bigger business than most people think. It’s not uncommon for farmers to grow seven figures worth of crop in a single year.

“But just like any other business they want to have insurance policies to protect their ‘inventory’ that sits in fields and not on warehouse shelves.

“So farmers have insurance policies protecting against a wide variety of things like hail storms, flooding, wildlife damage and more.”

The initial inspiration for SkyClaim came as a result of an international entrepreneurship competition that the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation had urged the company to enter.

“We represented Bermuda and participated in the 2014 Future Agro Challenge, a competition for start-ups from all over the globe to pitch new technology for the agricultural industry,” Mr Burrows said.

“At that event we pitched the idea of using drones for assessing crop damage for farmers and to our surprise we won.”

Mr Burrows mentioned that business is booming and they are continuing to develop.

“Our goal is to have SkyClaim be the global go-to solution for crop insurance companies to help them automate the claims process.

“With all the data partners we have, we’re also exploring the waters of large scale risk analysis and forecasting for government entities and reinsurance companies.”

In agricultural applications, Skymatics’ drones enable farmers to manage fields from the sky by identifying problems early on, tracking changes over time and measuring field performance variability.

In surveying, the drone data can create highly accurate and precise maps with high resolution imagery.

Mr Burrows and Mr Burns’ original start-up, Bermuda Aerial Media, is an aerial photography, video and photogrammetry company that uses GPS-controlled multi-rotor drones.

The firm shot the aerial footage of the island that appeared in the America’s Cup promotional film.

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