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China weather tech startup Ninecosmos secures $7.7m war chest

Computer simulations generate accurate air pollution forecasts

One of Ninecosmos' platforms analyzes air pollution sources and diffusion. The company expects its annual sales to double in 2021. (Photo courtesy of the company)

BEIJING -- Weather technology startup Ninecosmos Sci.&Tech recently raised 50 million yuan (about $7.7 million) in Series A funding, with Envision Capital serving as the lead investor.

Ninecosmos has its roots in the National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province. Tsinghua University also has a stake in the company that boasts of strong supercomputer, computer simulation and AI technologies.

Developing technology for weather-related services requires a lot of time, personnel and funds. Strong skills are required in a wide range of areas. In addition to hardware for weather observations as well as algorithms and computational power for computer simulations of atmospheric and oceanic meteorology, it is necessary to acquire and aggregate data sources, then design solutions for each client industry.

With its proprietary weather forecast platform, Ninecosmos supplies customized products for each industry.

It provides a cloud platform that industries working to protect air quality can use to simulate air quality. It has another platform to analyze local pollution sources and dispersion, and a weather navigation platform for the ocean shipping industry.

With experience operating the Chinese supercomputer Sunway TaihuLight, Ninecosmos is highly competitive in the field of computer simulations. It says its air pollution forecasts have nearly 90% accuracy.

These services have already been introduced to ecological environment-related government organizations and scientific research organizations in Beijing, Shandong Province, Jiangsu Province and elsewhere.

Ninecosmos makes detailed forecasts about the atmosphere and ocean weather at an 800-meter-mesh high resolution in designated waters and provides weather services related to winds, waves, currents, sea temperatures, salt content, sea level and other factors. Its system is in practical use at the Port of Tianjin.

The company this year has been focusing on the oceangoing shipping and clean-energy industries.

The market for oceangoing shipping navigation services is led by Japan's Weathernews and Norway's StormGeo; Rates for 15-day weather services for shipping run from $3,000 to $3,500.

According to ship-related information provider Clarksons Research, the number of merchant vessels with a gross tonnage of 100 or more exceeded 100,000 as of February, and the market for global ocean shipping services is worth about $10 billion a year.

As the promotion of clean energy is expected to become a global trend, Ninecosmos intends to focus on business areas such as wind and solar power resource observation and assessment, and extreme weather warnings.

Ninecosmos' balanced list of corporate and government clients contributes to its long-term growth. The company's annual sales topped 20 million yuan (about $3 million) in 2020, and the number of its employees has increased to over 70 from 45 at the beginning of that year.

The company expects its annual sales to double in 2021.

36Kr, a Chinese tech news portal founded in Beijing in 2010, has more than 150 million readers worldwide. Nikkei announced a partnership with 36Kr on May 22, 2019.

For the Japanese version of this story, click here.

For the Chinese version, click here.

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