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Leeds-based photonic chip firm Optalysys raises £21m

Optalysys Image credit: Optalysys

Optalysys has received £21m in Series A capital led by Lingotto, Imec.xpand, and Northern Gritstone to develop fully homomorphic encryption chips.

Fully homomorphic encryption (FHE) is a type of quantum cryptography where computations can be performed on confidential data without decrypting it.

Leeds-based Optalysys says that this approach is more secure but requires “around one million times” additional processing power than its unencrypted counterpart.

For now the encryption “is currently unviable for anything beyond basic processes”, said Optalysys co-founder and CEO Dr Nick New.

“What’s more, FHE is just the starting point for where our technology can go.”

Optalysys has developed a photonic semiconductor that it claims speeds up the transfer of fully homomorphic encryption data.

Northern Gritstone’s CEO Duncan Johnson said: “Optalysys has the holy grail of privacy technologies, providing a solution that will close the last major vulnerability in cloud and remote processing”.

He added: “Nick and Rob’s decision to move the company to Leeds validates Northern Gritstone’s belief that the thriving innovation hub in the North of England will attract fast-growing technology companies to the region,” continued Johnson.

New, along with co-founder Robert Todd, launched Optalysys from a background of 20 years working in optical computing.

Johnson, speaking to UKTN last month, revealed the North of England venture capital firm has closed a further £50m and up to “£100m in the hopper”.