Cambridge-based exactEarth, a partner in Communitech’s DATA.BASE program, is taking steps to become a public company.

That’s a great show of strength in a relatively young company that stepped up to be the lead industrial partner in the DATA.BASE initiative, said Glenn Smith, a former DATA.BASE program director.

“When we think about the DATA.BASE, some of the things we were starting to impact was the development of new products, new processes, new intellectual property,” Smith said. “And certainly exactEarth was able to come to market with new products from those engagements.”

DATA.BASE was funded by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev) to explore ways of processing, packaging and selling the vast amounts of digital information produced by everyday activities. The program wrapped up this spring.

Established in 2009, exactEarth collects satellite data about ships around the world. It has filed a preliminary prospectus with securities commissions in provinces other than Quebec for an initial public offering. Canaccord Genuity Corp. will lead a syndicate of underwriters to handle the offering.

ExactEarth declined to elaborate on the announcement.

“I think being able to work with Communitech and access the local community, some of the developers and other communities was a very positive thing,” exactEarth President Peter Mabson told Communitech News in April, adding: “I think there is a huge potential for satellite and mobile Internet of Things, because anything that moves, people are going to be interested in, either to track it or get tracking data from it.”

ExactEarth has built a business collecting shipping information from low-orbit satellites and selling it. Ships of 300 gross tonnes or more are required by international convention to link to an automatic identification system (AIS) satellite service.

More than 150 government agencies from nearly 50 countries use information processed by exactEarth. Besides keeping track of the position of ships, agencies apply satellite data to such purposes as investigating illegal fishing and oceanic pollution caused by ships flushing their bilges.

More than 90 per cent of the world’s trade travels by sea, according to the International Maritime Organization.

Owned by COM DEV International Ltd., a local maker of satellite components, and Hisdesat, a Spanish company involved in secure satellite communications, exactEarth was among several industrial and academic partners in the DATA.BASE program at Communitech.

In COM DEV’s annual report for 2014, chief executive officer Michael Pley said exactEarth “came into its own as a thriving business that is meeting the vision we had for it when it was founded in 2009.

“It added three in-orbit satellites to its constellation and expanded its ground stations from six to 13. It has also entered into a public/private partnership with the European Space Agency that designated exactEarth as the satellite AIS [Automatic Identification System] service provider for the European institutional market. And possibly the most significant event in 2014 for exactEarth was the contract signed with the Government of Canada last September worth over $17 million.”