Oxford Sciences Innovation (OSI) portfolio company PQShield, which specialises in post-quantum cryptography, has raised £5.5m seed funding to support its development of this process to ensure secure communications in quantum computing environments. The raise was led by new investors Kindred Capital and Crane Venture Partners.
OSI Principal Matthew Arnold explained why cybersecurity is important with the emergency of quantum computing: “The arrival of these machines should revolutionise problem-solving in domains like drug discovery, physics, and process optimisation, but will also pose unprecedented security risks. It has been demonstrated comprehensively that, at scale, they will be able to break most traditional encryption schemes and thus threaten the security of all digital information,” adding:
“Whilst the potential of a cure for cancer and a cleaner energy future enabled by catalysts discovered with quantum computers is enticing, a future without secure electronic communication is a frightening possibility.”
PQShield’s post-quantum cryptography approach is to ensure private information can be secured forever with today’s technology and is part of a standardisation process being driven by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
Arnold explained OSI is investing in PQShield because although the market will take time to fully mature, “we believe the companies taking part in the NIST standardisation process will be in pole position to lead the commercialisation process, as long as they can build what customers need. We are willing to trade early traction for long term impact, and we share this vision with the founding team.”
PQShield was founded by Dr Ali El Kaafarani, who connected with OSI in 2017 as a research fellow at Oxford University’s Mathematics Institute: “The idea for PQShield came from the huge disconnect I noticed between the scale of the quantum threat and the level of information security seen at most businesses today,” he said.
“PQShield is involved in more schemes than any other company in the NIST process,” said Arnold, “And they have already released a software and hardware acceleration platform that implements all of the schemes and put it in the hands of beta customers like Bosch. This is why we believe PQShield has the potential to be a leader in post-quantum cryptography, and we’re thrilled that investors like Kindred and Crane also recognise this potential.”