PQShield raises £5.5m seed funding

PQShield, the post-quantum cryptography startup has announced a significant seed investment from Kindred Capital, Crane Venture Partners, Oxford Sciences Innovation and angel investors including Andre Crawford-Brunt, Deutsche Bank’s former global head of equities.

The RSA and Elliptic Curve cryptographic standards of today are very easily breakable by quantum computers, completely undermining the confidentiality and integrity of sensitive information held by businesses, governments and even intelligence agencies.

So severe is the problem that the US National Security Agency warned in 2015 it must ‘act now’ to safeguard its systems from the quantum threat, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) initiated a process to define new, quantum-ready cryptographic standards. Unlike older standards, post-quantum cryptography algorithms rely on computational problems that are hard even for quantum computers to solve.

PQShield, which span out from the University of Oxford, is helping businesses prepare for this threat. Its team is pioneering the development and commercial roll-out of quantum-secure cryptography – advanced cryptographic solutions for hardware, software and communications that will protect information from the quantum threat, yet can be implemented using today’s technology and are interoperable with companies’ legacy systems.

Dr Ali El Kaafarani, a research fellow at Oxford’s Mathematical Institute and former engineer at Hewlett-Packard Labs, founded PQShield in 2018 after observing the disconnect between the scale of the quantum threat and the level of information security seen at most businesses today.

PQShield’s team is made up of researchers with hundreds of publications between them, and has one of the UK’s highest concentrations of cryptography PhDs outside academia and the classified sector.

PQShield’s founder and CEO, Dr El Kaafarani, said: “Too often, we see a huge gulf between academic theory and commercial reality. Cryptographers know that quantum computers pose a real and devastating threat, yet most businesses fail to recognise the need to protect their information beyond today’s security challenges.

“At PQShield, our team of researchers and engineers is bringing cutting-edge cryptography solutions out of the research lab and into today’s businesses, so they can confidently face the security threats of today and tomorrow. We are delighted to partner with Kindred Capital and our other investors to help realise our vision of a world in which quantum computers pose no threat to information security.”

Chrysanthos Chrysanthou, partner at Kindred Capital, added: “With some of the brightest minds in cryptography, mathematics and engineering, and boasting world-class software and hardware solutions, PQShield is uniquely positioned to lead the charge in protecting businesses from one of the most profound threats to their future.

“We couldn’t be happier to support the team as it works to set a new standard for information security and defuse the risks resulting from the rise of quantum.”