Around 16 per cent of Australia’s greenhouse emissions come from agriculture. Things like nitrous oxide in fertiliser and methane from livestock are having a big impact on climate change.
It’s really important that we find better ways to grow our food. And the data we collect from satellites in space can help.
Anastasia Volkova is the CEO and founder of Regrow. Formerly known as FluroSat, Regrow uses Earth observation technology to help farmers improve their crops. Regrow collects data from multispectral cameras on satellites to find out if crops are healthy. They can see if a crop has too much water (or not enough), or if it needs more nutrients. They can also tell if a crop is sick a week before the plants show any signs.
This helps farmers use water and fertiliser more efficiently, as well as rescue crops that might be failing. “We are trying to solve problems around the use of resources in agriculture,” Anastasia says. “Making it more resilient, less dependent on fertiliser, and more environmentally friendly.”
Growing up in Ukraine, Anastasia wanted an international career. She studied aerospace engineering because she wanted to see the world. She completed a masters degree in Poland, and then came to Australia for her PhD on drone technology. Partway through her PhD, she launched FluroSat.
Anastasia had known for a while that she wanted to start her own business. She had worked in a number of startups over the years and learned the ropes. “I worked part-time in a number of roles. I was a project manager, a business development manager, a product manager and an account manager,” she says. “I learned a lot about how to attract and retain customers and how to build successful products.”
It was the experience she needed to make FluroSat a success. The business attracted millions of dollars in funding in the first few years. In 2021, FluroSat acquired another startup based in the US, and the combined company was renamed Regrow. It now has staff all over the world, and Anastasia is based in California.
Anastasia is passionate about showing people how technology in space benefits us all here on Earth.
“When people think of space, they think of rockets and satellites. But actually, the most important part of the business model is what you do with the data,” she says. “There's a downstream application for space data in almost every industry.”
- Anastasia studied a Bachelor of Science (Aerospace Engineering) at the National Aviation University in Kyiv, Ukraine. She graduated in 2012.
- She then went to Poland to complete a masters at the Warsaw University of Technology.
- Over the years, Anastasia also worked part-time in a number of startups.
- In 2015 Anastasia arrived in Australia to start her PhD at the University of Sydney. She completed her PhD in 2018.
- She worked as a STEM Educator at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences during the first few years of her PhD.
- In 2016 Anastasia launched her own start-up, FluroSat.
- In 2020 Anastasia was listed on MIT Technology Review’s Innovators Under 35 list. She was also included in the BBC’s 100 Women list, which lists inspiring women in different fields from around the world.
- FluroSat acquired another company called Dagan and relaunched as Regrow in 2021.