Tech takes on wildfires

Wildfires have turned into a fact of life for millions of Canadians, and a growing cohort of entrepreneurs and investors are developing technology to limit the damage they cause. 

Why it matters: Wildfires are expected to burn 5 million hectares of forest in Canada by 2050—roughly the size of Nova Scotia. From automated sprinkler systems to firefighting robots, we’ll need every tool in the kit to better anticipate and fight a growing number of fires. 

A string of startups in the emerging “firetech” space are raising venture capital, even amid a sharp downturn in overall deal activity.

  • Bill Clerico: The former VC raised US$35 million for his fund, Convective Capital, which will focus exclusively on tech to fight wildfires.
  • Frontline Wildfire Defense, which plans to build a wildfire sprinkler system for homes and businesses, raised $6.4 million in seed funding.
  • Pano AI, a fire detection system built to help fire departments catch wildfires before they get out of control, raised $20 million.
  • Firemaps, a tool homeowners can use to renovate their homes to make them more fire-resistant, raised $5.5 million in a round led by Andreessen Horowitz.
  • Burnbot, which aims to build robots that can carry out controlled burns that destroy the fuel wildfires need, raised $5 million

Zoom out: Canada is already a world leader in wildfire management, but there’s always room to improve. WildFireSat, an initiative between the Canadian Space Agency and the feds, will upgrade management capacity further with round-the-clock satellite monitoring.

Bottom line: As both sides of the country continue to battle devastating wildfires, developments in fire technology really can’t come fast enough.—TS