Utah Company Improving Ocean Weather Forecasting Through Its Satellites

Brittany HancockUtah Innovation Center

Care Weather Technologies received a $275,000 Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) – the company’s second STTR award partnering with Brigham Young University.  

Co-founded by Patrick Walton and Alex Laraway, the Utah County-based company will use the non-equity position funds to further develop its satellite network for live, oceanic weather monitoring. Specifically, Care Weather will refine the high-level design of its satellites, develop hardware for its test satellite being launched in February on Space X, and create a commercialization plan for the ocean wind data its satellites will collect.

The company aims to provide accurate and affordable, up-to-the-hour weather data that will assist in oceanic weather forecasting and warnings. The technology could be used by industries spanning shipping, tourism, and fishing, and governments worldwide. Current sources of ocean weather are sparse and outdated. Care Weather is first tackling ocean surface wind data, which is only available once a day, leading to many unknowns and risks.  

The company provided advice to entrepreneurs starting their SBIR/STTR journey. “It is the same as preparing to fundraise. Any traction you can get either in technology or business, take it,” said Patrick Walton, CEO of Care Weather Technologies. “With technology, there is a lot of work to do after you know where you are going. Breaking down all the steps and identifying the first actions to reduce the biggest risks is beneficial. Talk to customers and ask them to sign letters of intent with actual dollar values if the technology comes to fruition. That can be particularly useful, especially in areas the NSF invests in.”

Walton also suggests looking for unique opportunities such as agency-specific application, commercialization or topic-specific cohorts you can find by keeping your ear to the ground. Care Weather participated in a cohort funded by the Small Business Administration for climate technology startups, which he found invaluable.  

The company benefited from the Utah Innovation Center’s (UIC) free consultation services while preparing its winning proposal.

Walton said the most beneficial thing the UIC did was assist in the grant writing process through its NSF-specific workshop. It regularly holds in-person and virtual workshops, one-on-one consultations, and helps facilitate networking with federal SBIR/STTR agencies and local industries. 

Companies interested in pursuing non-dilutive R&D funding through the federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs can contact the Utah Innovation Center at innovationutah@utah.gov.