CyanoLakes (Pty) Ltd was founded by Dr. Mark Matthews in February 2015 after it was selected as the winning business idea in 2014 Copernicus Masters Ideas Challenge for satellite applications. During his PhD, Mark designed an algorithm with the ability to distinguish between potentially toxic cyanobacteria and other algae, which was recognised as a breakthrough in research and innovation. The business idea behind CyanoLakes is rooted in the fact that the vast quantity of satellite data being routinely acquired in space is largely unused, and could be exploited for wide-scale operational monitoring of lakes.


Mark envisaged an online information service providing daily warnings to the public of the risks to human health from cyanobacteria blooms and water pollution. This would enable water and health authorities an unprecedented ability to monitor in near real-time for cyanobacteria and algal blooms, and simultaneously empower the public to make informed decisions to protect themselves from the adverse effects of cyanobacteria blooms.


Work began on a prototype for South Africa in 2015 following the awarding of a research grant to CyanoLakes (Pty) Ltd by the Water Research Commission. The prototype, dubbed the “Earth Observation National Eutrophication Monitoring Programme” was built around the needs of the South African Department of Water and Sanitation, who became the first user, using the information to fill gaps in their monitoring database and for reporting. The prototype began daily updates in January 2017 following the public release of data from the newly launched Sentinel-3 satellite. The service was made available to the commercial market  in the third quarter of 2017.


CyanoLakes (Pty) Ltd also provides custom solutions to water problems using satellite remote sensing for government authorities, commercial water utilities and bulk raw water users, aquaculture operators, water engineering firms, environmental scientists and academic and research institutions.


Values equal value. Our values guide the services and products we deliver to our clients.


Information, not imagery


Open, excellent science


Customer-driven development


Public data, public access


Customer service excellence


Reproducibility, truthfulness


Collaborative relationships



Mark Matthews


PhD in bio-optical remote sensing


Mark Matthews is a proudly South African scientist and entrepreneur specialising in the remote sensing of cyanobacteria from space. He has a PhD in bio-optical remote sensing from the University of Cape Town where he currently serves as an honorary research associate. You can view his list of publications here, and his full profile here.

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