Random numbers are used everywhere, from facilitating lotteries, to simulating the weather or behaviour of materials, and ensuring secure data exchange between infrastructure and vehicles in intelligent transport systems (C-ITS).

Perhaps most importantly though, randomness is at the core of the security we all rely upon for transacting safely on the internet. Specifically, random numbers are used in the creation of secure cryptographic keys for encrypting data to safeguard its confidentiality, integrity and authenticity.

Random numbers are provided via random number generators (RNGs) that utilise a source of entropy (randomness) and an algorithm to generate random numbers. A number of RNG types exist based on the method of implementation (e.g. hardware and/or software).

Pseudo-random number generators (PRNGs)

PRNGs that rely purely on software can be cost-effective, but are intrinsically deterministic and given the same seed will produce the exact same sequence of random numbers (and due to memory constraints, this sequence will eventually repeat) – whilst the output of the PRNG may be statistically random, its behaviour is entirely predictable.

An attacker able to guess which PRNG is being used can deduce its state by observing the output sequence and thereby predict each random number – and this can be as small as 624 observations in the case of common PRNGs such as the Mersenne Twister MT19937. Moreover, an unfortunate choice of seed can lead to a short cycle length before the number sequence repeats which again opens the PRNG to attack.  In short, PRNGs are inherently vulnerable and far from ideal for cryptography.

True random number generators (TRNGs)

TRNGs extract randomness (entropy) from a physical source and use this to generate a sequence of random numbers that in theory are highly unpredictable. Certainly they address many of the shortcomings of PRNGs, but they’re not perfect either.

In many TRNGs, the entropy source is based on thermal or electrical noise, or jitter in an oscillator, any of which can be manipulated by an attacker able to control the environment in which the TRNG is operating (e.g., temperature, EMF noise or voltage modulation).

Given the need to sample the entropy source, a TRNG can be slow in operation, and fundamentally limited by the nature of the entropy pool – a poorly designed implementation or choice of entropy can result in the entropy pool quickly becoming exhausted. In such a scenario, the TRNG has the choice of either reducing the amount of entropy used for generating each random number (compromising security) or scaling back the number of random numbers it generates.

Either situation could result in the same or similar random numbers being output until the entropy pool is replenished – a serious vulnerability that can be addressed through in-built health checks, but with the risk that output is ceased hence opening the TRNG up to denial-of-service attacks. Ring-oscillator based TRNGs, for instance, have a hard limit in how fast they can be run, and if more entropy is sought by combining a few in parallel they can produce similar outputs hence undermining their usefulness.

IoT devices in particular often have difficulty gathering sufficient entropy during initialisation to generate strong cryptographic keys given the lack of entropy sources in these simple devices, hence can be forced to use hard-coded keys, or seed the RNG from unique (but easy to guess) identifiers such as the device’s MAC address, both of which seriously undermines security robustness.

Ideally, RNGs need an entropy source that is completely unpredictable and chaotic, not influenced by external environmental factors, able to provide random bits in abundance to service a large volume of requests and facilitate stronger keys, and service these requests quickly and at high volume.

Quantum random number generators (QRNGs)

QRNGs are a special class of RNG that utilise Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle (an inability to know the position and speed of a photon or electron with perfect accuracy) to provide a pure source of entropy and therefore address all the aforementioned requirements.

Not only do they provide a provably random entropy source based on the laws of physics, QRNGs are also intrinsically high entropy hence able to deliver truly random bit sequences and at high speed thereby enabling QRNGs to run much faster than other TRNGs, and more efficiently than PRNGs across high volume applications.

They are also more resistant to environmental factors, and thereby at less risk from external manipulation, whilst also being able to operate reliably in EMF noisy environments such as data centres for serving random numbers to thousands of servers realtime.

But not all QRNGs are created equal; poor design in the physical construction and/or processing circuitry can compromise randomness or reduce the level of entropy resulting in system failure at high volumes. QRNG designs embracing sophisticated silicon photonics in an attempt to create high entropy sources can become cost prohibitive in comparison to established RNGs, whilst other designs often have size and heat constraints.

Introducing Crypta Labs

Careful design and robustness in implementation is therefore vital – Crypta Labs have been pioneering in quantum technology since 2014 and through their research have developed a unique solution utilising readily available components that makes use of quantum photonics as a source of entropy to produce a state-of-the-art QRNG capable of delivering quantum random numbers at very high speeds and easily integrated into existing systems. Blueshift Memory is an early adopter of the technology, creating a cybersecurity memory solution that will be capable of countering threats from quantum computing.

Rapid advances in compute power are undermining traditional cryptographic approaches and exploiting any weakness; even a slight imperfection in the random number generation can be catastrophic. Migrating to QRNGs reduces this threat and provides resiliency against advances in classical compute and the introduction of basic quantum computers expected over the next few years. In time, quantum computers will advance sufficiently to break the encryption algorithms themselves, but such computers will require tens of millions of physical qubits and therefore are unlikely to materialise for another 10 years or more.

Post-quantum cryptography (PQC) algorithms

In preparation for this quantum future, an activity spearheaded by NIST in the US with input from academia and the private sector (e.g., IBM, ARM, NXP, Infineon) is developing a set of PQC algorithms that will be safe against this threat. A component part of ensuring these PQC algorithms are quantum-safe involves moving to much larger key sizes, hence a dependency on QRNGs able to deliver sufficiently high entropy at scale.

In summary, a transition by hardware manufacturers (servers, firewalls, routers etc.) to incorporate QRNGs at the board level addresses the shortcomings of existing RNGs whilst also providing quantum resilience for the coming decade. Not only are they being adopted by large corporates such as Alibaba, they also form a component part of the White House’s strategy to combat the quantum threat in the US.

Given that QRNGs are superior to other TRNGs, can contribute to future-proofing cryptography for the next decade, and are now cost effective and easy to implement in the case of Crypta Lab’s solution, they really are a no-brainer.

A key tenet of the Bloc Ventures investment strategy is to back companies that have science-based IP, with the potential to impact a broad set of industries and so are less affected by hype cycles or momentum.

A proof point of this strategy is AccelerComm, which has today announced a $27m Series B funding round with new investment from Parkwalk, SwissComm and Hostplus, as well as continued support from Bloc Ventures, IP Group and IQ Capital. The confidence shown by the investor community is testament to the technology, the team and the resilient nature of deep tech.

What does AccelerComm do?

Spun-out from the University of Southampton, the company was founded by Professor Rob Maunder and is driven by a leadership team with executive experience gained at ARM, Qualcomm and Ericsson. AccelerComm has established itself as a leader in the optimisation of communication networks, and is already working with Intel, AMD and National Instruments to name a few. When applied to 5G, the company’s world-leading channel coding technology enables the most efficient use of radio spectrum, improving coverage and increasing capacity, whilst reducing latency and power consumption.

What is key to AccelerComm’s success is that they have achieved a strong product-market fit for the technology. Far too often there’s a great idea but no customer. Another fundamental part of the journey (something that we feel is key to spinout success) has been the commitment of the academic founder Rob Maunder, who joined the company on a full-time basis early on its journey.

By applying its technological advancement to a technology economic problem (increasing consumption vs the cost of the network), the company has been able to acquire new customers, demonstrate a growing market and consequently attract growth investors. All this despite the wider less favourable market sentiment towards softer ‘tech’ startups operating in the consumer facing venture capital markets.

Why is deep tech not affected by wider market challenges?

Much has been written about the change in attitude and risk appetite around venture capital investing in recent times, with Michael Casey (Portico Advisors) writing in the FT: “Venture capital prospered in a magical decade that placed a premium value on storytelling”. But in fact, deep tech has been much less affected by this wider sentiment and change in attitude, largely because outlandish storytelling and rapid due diligence, are rarely part of the deep tech investment process.

Of course, deep tech companies come with technical risk, but once this is understood and overcome there only remains market demand risk, and once this is proven, companies often have much more defensibility than more generalist consumer technology companies who are frequently more harshly affected by current market sentiment.

As reported recently by Dealroom, European deep tech funding only dropped 9% from 2021 to 2022, compared with FinTech (45%), Health Tech (35%) and Food Tech (60%) which saw a much larger drop in funding, caused by the wider acknowledgment of inflated valuations in overall VC (which dropped 46% in the same period).

So why doesn’t everyone invest in deep tech?

The ecosystem of deep tech co-investors is relatively small, often with only a handful of options available to entrepreneurs building solutions in complex and specialised markets. There are many reasons for this: the product-market fit journey for deep tech companies can be long and expensive; the technical due diligence involved requires a scientific understanding of the technology; and the network required for an investor to support deep tech companies effectively takes decades to build which is a real barrier for most generalist investors.

These are key reasons behind the way Bloc is structured. We’re a permanent capital company, made up of a complement of deeply technical and operationally experienced industry experts, with a strong network in the technology supply chain. This means we can confidently validate products, companies and entrepreneurs, whilst being able to back them for the long term (with no fund restrictions) and providing hands-on support as portfolio companies commercialise.

The UK ecosystem of deep tech investors is small but growing, with access to some of the best technical minds in the world and the potential to build globally competitive companies like AccelerComm.

So what makes deep tech attractive? 

As shown in the table above, as an asset class, despite receiving only 10% of the world’s VC funding, deep tech companies (classified as hardware in the research) are well on a path to punch above their weight in proportion of revenue compared to generalist technology (classified as software in the research). A trend that’s accelerating with the advent of the hard deep tech that AI and Quantum are so reliant on.

The challenge for deep tech startups themselves remains an investor gap with less than 3% of VCs considered to have a real focus on deep tech and the operational expertise and networks necessary to scale them.

At Bloc, we’re always looking for new partners looking to invest in the world’s technology infrastructure, if that’s you please get in touch with our team.

‘Big Tech companies use cloud computing arms to pursue alliances with AI groups.’

YellowDog’s CEO Tom Beese was featured in the FT this week as he spoke to a journalist on the rise of generative AI and natural language models, with special focus on the impact on compute requirements and partnerships with compute providers.

The YellowDog platform enables AI companies to reduce cost by up to 90% and remain flexible by adopting a multi-cloud strategy, accessing compute resource from all major providers.

Here is the excerpt: Cloud management company YellowDog, which helps customers switch between cloud services, says it knows of several alliances between nascent AI companies that have yet to launch products and cloud providers, made at a stage when they are willing to tie themselves to a supplier and give up equity. “Some academics that want to move into their own start-up, their first conversation is with cloud providers before they even recruit developers because they know it’s impossibly expensive. It’s key,” said Tom Beese, chief executive of Yellow Dog.

The full article can be found here: https://www.ft.com/content/5b17d011-8e0b-4ba1-bdca-4fbfdba10363

Pharrowtech expands into the UK and grows its management team to boost next generation wireless products. Global millimeter-wave wireless tech leader accelerates hiring and opens two new offices as it grows its product and development capabilities.

Pharrowtech, a growing market leader in mmWave solutions for next-generation wireless applications, has opened its first UK design centre in the Thames Valley area. The UK office will be led by Dr Mehul (Micky) Mehta, and it will help bolster the company’s resources and talent pool as it grows its product offering. The news comes as Pharrowtech continues to hire at pace, including the recent acquisition of two significant new management hires.

In addition to Dr Mehta’s appointment in the UK, Claudia Bastian joins as Global HR Manager based in Leuven, Belgium. Pharrowtech’s Leuven office has moved to Philipssite to accommodate the company’s growing team and operations.  It boasts a new state-of-the-art mmWave laboratory with the latest equipment, including the most advanced mmWave network analyzer technology, several anechoic chambers, and chip characterization and qualification setups.

The opening of Pharrowtech’s UK office and the move to a new headquarter office in Belgium quadruples the company’s office and lab capabilities. It is an essential component in Pharrowtech’s growth, as it continues to develop complete solutions for next generation wireless applications and expands its capabilities to serve even more commercial markets. The UK office is now actively seeking engineers with skills in digital modem design, real-time embedded software and digital silicon.

Dr Mehul Mehta, Vice President of Pharrowtech UK, has more than two decades’ experience of working in technical and leadership roles in the wireless communications industry, having most recently served as CEO of Celestia Technologies Group. He is an expert in physical and MAC layer topics – with specialities in areas including radio (wireless) communications and digital design. To date, he has developed several solutions for 3GPP (UMTS, LTE), IEEE 802.11 (WLAN) and IEEE 802.16 (WiMAX) standards, has authored numerous journal and conference papers and holds 10 patents.

Claudia Bastian, Global HR Manager, Pharrowtech, brings over 30 years of international experience  at global technology businesses including DellEMC and OneSpan. She will spearhead Pharrowtech’s international recruitment drive, working to attract and retain the right technical talent.

Wim Van Thillo, CEO and co-founder, Pharrowtech comments, “The last two years have been a period of rapid progress for us, with product launches, significant investments, and successful trials with leading companies in the wireless industry. We are now focused on building our world-class global team of experts to fulfil our ambitions and deliver innovative technology that meets the needs of next generation wireless applications. With its well-established history in wireless systems and silicon design, the UK is an ideal location for the next phase in our growth.

Dr Mehul Mehta comments, “This is an exciting time for the wireless industry and Pharrowtech stood out to me as a company truly at the forefront of it. Pharrowtech’s team of experts has the potential to make some of the most advanced wireless solutions a reality, to benefit people everywhere. I’m delighted to be joining the company and to help lead this next period of expansion.”

Claudia Bastian adds, “Pharrowtech is a true pioneer in the wireless communications industry and creating a talented  team with  the best technical expertise will be crucial to our success. I’m looking forward to the challenge of identifying these individuals worldwide to accelerate the company’s growth.”

Those interested in receiving more information about open roles or applying, should visit: https://pharrowtech.com/careers

YellowDog appoints ARM and computing veteran Noel Hurley as CEO.

YellowDog, which transforms how businesses access compute, welcomes Noel Hurley as its new CEO. The previous CEO, Simon Ponsford, becomes CTO (a position he previously held for five years) and will focus on technology roadmap, as YellowDog grows partnerships with hyperscalers and customers.

Noel joins YellowDog after many years as an executive at Arm, the microprocessor company. During his time there he held a number of VP and General Manager positions including the business segments team responsible for initiating Arm’s entry into the cloud market as well as running the CPU division and product teams. Noel also initiated and ran Arm’s internal incubation activity working closely with start-ups across a broad range of the deep tech markets. He was also a Co-founder of Bristol based fabless semiconductor company XMOS.

Noel commented: “I am very excited to join the YellowDog team. We want to make YellowDog the window into the world’s compute allowing businesses to better manage their compute investment. I see the YellowDog platform being the core tool for businesses to right size and manage their compute resources. It has the ability to provision and schedule workloads across on-prem clusters, public and private cloud at a scale and speed not seen before. This allows customers to be agile to the needs of the market whilst keeping costs under tight control.”

Simon was part of the YellowDog founding team and spent five years as CTO before taking the reins as CEO in 2020, driving both the commercial and technology roadmap of the business since then. He will now focus on the company’s technological innovation and building solutions to support compute management for customers. Noel’s arrival will enable the team to scale.

Simon commented: “We are excited to have Noel join YellowDog. The company has over the last year managed to prove its technology and demonstrate alongside our cloud partners the ability to create compute clusters at HPC scale. Noel will bring his commercial and strategic strengths to our business as we look to further scale the YellowDog business.”

YellowDog addresses the growing cloud and compute management market that is set to grow to $1.6bn (five-year CAGR 75%) by 2027. Using its cloud native compute workload management platform, the company can provision and schedule tasks on private or public cloud alongside existing on-premise infrastructure. To date, the Platform has been used by companies innovating in Life Sciences, Financial Services and Media and Entertainment.

YellowDog is unique in being able to provision over multiple geographies simultaneously and at speeds and scales that have not been achieved before. In July 2021 working alongside AWS YellowDog built a cluster of more than 3m vCPUs in less than an hour. This helped to make YellowDog one of only 16 companies that have achieved ‘HPC competency’ certification with AWS. This month at the ISC High Performance 2022 event in Hamburg YellowDog will be making further announcements in the field of confidential compute with our OEM and Cloud partners.

Pharrowtech raises €15 million Series A to develop world’s first viable wireless alternative.

Pharrowtech, a leader in the design and development of millimetre wave (mmWave) hardware and software for next-generation wireless applications, today announces its €15 million Series A funding round to continue developing next-generation 60 GHz wireless technology. 

The round was led by Innovation Industries, with participation from Bloc Ventures, imec.xpand and KBC Focus Fund. This will enable Pharrowtech to accelerate deployment of its recently launched 60 GHz CMOS Radio-Frequency Integrated Circuit (RFIC) PTR1060, and phased array antenna Radio-Frequency Module (RFM) PTM1060 for 5G unlicensed fixed wireless access, wireless infrastructure, and consumer applications. The capital will be used to ensure best in class customer support, expanding Pharrowtech’s operations in the United States, and growing its engineering and business teams to drive the product roadmap and fuel further growth.

Pharrowtech delivers a unique solution, offering gigabit-per-second speeds to consumers and businesses wirelessly. The 60 GHz frequency range is becoming increasingly important for applications such as remote working and learning, augmented and virtual reality, and entertainment and gaming, thanks to its greater capacity and lower latency. Increasingly, network operators are looking at outdoor Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) solutions as the most effective and economical solution to deliver the required gigabit-per-second speeds link to consumers. In parallel, due to the increasing capabilities of 5G radio base stations, mobile operators are deploying millimetre wave solutions to meet the increasing demand of backhaul network architectures for macro and high-density small cell deployments.  

Wim Van Thillo, CEO and co-founder, Pharrowtech, says: “This year has started on a great note for Pharrowtech, and this investment is another significant milestone in our journey. Despite the challenges brought by a global pandemic, Pharrowtech was able to move rapidly from imec R&D Prototypes in 2019 to scaling up production of an exceptionally advanced 60 GHz RF solution by 2022. Our agility and capabilities have kept us ahead of the curve, delivering solutions that will shape the future of ubiquitous connectivity. We would like to thank our team, our investors, partners, and especially our customers for their faith in us. With the next phase of our growth underway, we are committed to providing RF solutions to multi-GHz links to enable low-cost infrastructure and consumer applications.”

David Leftley, CTO at Bloc Ventures, added: “60 GHz licence free spectrum is rapidly becoming the spectrum of choice where low latency and multi gigabit speeds are a requirement for infrastructure and CE wireless connectivity applications. Until now, cost and power consumption has been prohibitive to wide adoption. Pharrowtech is at the forefront of enabling this market, launching highly advanced low cost and low power CMOS RF semiconductor products. Core to the team’s latest innovation is leveraging bulk CMOS rather than more expensive and exotic fabrication processes such a SiGe. To do this is an outstanding achievement. The funding round is a testament to their expertise, execution and commitment, and we are delighted to be involved in this growth journey alongside them.”

Building on imec’s R&D and prototypes, Pharrowtech recently announced the availability of the PTR1060, the world’s first IEEE 802.11ay-compliant CMOS RF chip for indoor and outdoor wireless use cases that supports the full 57 to 71 GHz bandwidth. The company also launched PTM1060 (RFM) phased array antenna modules to provide OEM/ODMs with a ready-to-use 60 GHz solution. The integration levels, performance, and capabilities of Pharrowtech’s latest RFIC open the full potential of low-cost, small form factor and low-power FWA deployments, 5G and WiFi infrastructure backhauling, next-generation consumer electronics products, and IoT devices requiring high-speed links. The programming interfaces and tuneable features of the chip and antenna allow for optimal integration by equipment makers.

Both products are currently available to select customers and are already being designed-in by a tier-one US equipment vendor. The company is also providing demonstrations and evaluation kits to the consumers and will ramp up the production in Q3 2022.

Helix Geospace raises £3m Seed funding led by Bloc Ventures to take its world-leading GPS antennas into mass production.

David Leftley, CTO and Co-founder of Bloc Ventures commented: “Over 10 billion devices make use of satellite GNSS signals for geolocation, from simple consumer location services to critical aerospace applications. But the challenge of reliable, resilient location in demanding environments remains the same. Helix has gone to the root of the problem, the antenna, with a design made possible by the company’s world leading advances in AI, applied to advanced 3D manufacturing of ceramics. The result is the highest signal sensitivity from the smallest physical size, and the lowest implementation complexity and cost for a GNSS receiver. We’re really excited to support the team as they begin scaling the company and developing the product alongside their initial customers.”

Helix Geospace, the leading innovator in antenna and RF (radio frequency) technology, is pleased to announce that it has raised £3m Seed funding in a round led by Bloc Ventures, and supported by the UK Innovation and Science Seed Fund (UKI2S), managed by Midven, part of Future Planet Capital, and private investors including a group of sophisticated HNWI’s introduced by Tony Best, who’s background is in finance and high-end electronics manufacturing.

Helix builds precision antennas designed and manufactured to the highest specifications that enable GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) product designers to create the smallest, most accurate positioning, navigation and time synchronization products. PNT (Position, Navigation and Timing) services delivered by satellite systems have become the lynchpin of global economies, with critical infrastructure, transportation, cyber-security and defence being dependent on them. These dependencies are vulnerable to the operating environments – busy cities and crowded RF spectra – and are under threat from malicious attack. Helix Geospace has invented and developed antenna technology that defends against these vulnerabilities and threats.

Helix’s patented DielectriX ™ antennas are targeted initially to receive PNT signals from GNSS (GPS, Galileo, GLONASS, Beidou) constellations, and the Satelles STL (Satellite Time and Location) signals delivered over the Iridium constellation as well as Iridium’s voice and data network. Future antenna variants will support LEO (low earth orbit) PNT services being planned and built by private companies as well as government agencies. Key capabilities of DielectriX antennas are their ability to discriminate true satellite signals from multi-path signals, interference and jamming, delivering high performance in a compact and rugged form factor. Helix’s customers include defence, automotive, aerospace and critical infrastructure sector companies.

To date, Helix has raised £5.5m investment from UKI2S and angel investors, and has participated in Wayra UK’s Intelligent Mobility Accelerator programme and Seraphim Capital’s Space Camp Mission 6. Helix has also received additional grant funding for advanced antenna development from the European Space Agency, and for anti-jamming/spoofing technology from UKI2S.

As a result of this funding round Helix CTO and DielectriX inventor, world-reknown GNSS antenna and receiver specialist Oliver Leistenwill be growing his talented team of RF engineers, and COO Nick Filler, who had led operations groups at Nokia and Jaguar Land Rover, will build Helix’s operations team to drive the manufacturing ramp-up.

James Lewis, CEO of Helix, who has founded and led a series of technology start-ups said: “We started manufacturing DielectriX antennas using state of the art laser/robotics equipment developed in-house, and we are now set to scale up rapidly through partnerships with electronics manufacturing service providers in the UK. Future manufacturing growth plans will roll out our ‘factory-in-a-box’ to deliver global capability required to meet the expected demands for autonomous vehicles and systems where absolute resilience and precision of location data is essential for safety.”

Andy Muir, Investment Director at UKI2S, added: “We are pleased to continue of our support of the UK space initiative at Harwell Campus through our investment in Helix. Their growth opportunity in the roll-out of highly resilient PNT is global, and they are well positioned to provide the ground-based capability for next generation UK or international satellite-based PNT constellations.”

Get in touch with Bloc

We’re always looking for entrepreneurs building companies like Shield-IoT. If you’d like to get in touch with our investment team, you can do so below.

We’re delighted to announce our first Israeli investment into Shield-IoT, co-leading the round alongside NextLeap Ventures and Akamai Technologies.

Tel Aviv, Israel November 22nd, 2021— Shield-IoT, a leader in mass-scale IoT and IIoT network cyber security and operational monitoring, announced today the closing of a $7.4 million Series A round of funding. The Series A round was led by NextLeap Ventures and Bloc Ventures, with participation of Atlas Ventures, Akamai Technologies, Springtide Ventures, DIVEdigital and Janvest Capital Partners.

Founded in 2017, Shield-IoT addresses the escalating proliferation of IoT cyber threats to devices, data, critical services and infrastructure. With Shield-IoT, service providers and IoT brands can monitor and secure their mass-scale B2B IoT and IIoT networks, reduce operational costs, and generate new revenue streams with value-added services.

“Shield-IoT’s innovative approach to anomaly detection enables Akamai to provide accurate analytics at mass-scale,” says Ramanath Mallikarjuna, Chief Strategist at Akamai Technologies. “Akamai is collaborating with Shield-IoT on innovative solutions to enhance cybersecurity and operational monitoring for customers of Akamai’s IoT solutions.”

Currently in use across multiple verticals including telcos, utilities, transportation, manufacturing, smart cities, and government, Shield-IoT offers a simple-to-deploy and easy- to-operate cloud-based software solution to protect any IoT device or application with no changes to end customer networks.

Based on over 15 years of academic research and 50 academic papers, Shield-IoT coreset-AI patented technology revolutionizes IoT mass-volume data analysis through a unique transformation of “big data” into small datasets. “Coresets compress the data from n to log(n), or from 1 million to 20 data points, enabling context-free highly accurate anomaly detection in minutes instead of hours or days” says Professor Dan Feldman, Chief Scientist at Shield-IoT.

“Shield-IoT removes the big data barriers and opens the door to a $50 billion IoT connectivity services market (2025)”, says Udi Solomon, CEO and Co-Founder of Shield-IoT. “Our innovative technology is helping global IoT players to move forward and accelerate IoT growth”.

Get in touch with Bloc

We’re always looking for entrepreneurs building companies like Shield-IoT. If you’d like to get in touch with our investment team, you can do so below.

Digimarc and EVRYTHNG unite to build the world’s most powerful product identification engine with the industry’s most advanced product intelligence cloud platform

BEAVERTON, Ore., Nov. 15, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Digimarc Corporation (NASDAQ: DMRC), creator of Digimarc watermarks that are driving the next generation of digital identification and detection-based solutions, announced today it entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the Product Cloud company EVRYTHNG Limited in a stock transaction.

“This acquisition allows us to provide a complete solution set to our customers,” explains Digimarc CEO Riley McCormack. “The best determinant of a technology product’s value is how much of the customer’s problem it can solve. By combining Digimarc’s unique and advanced means of identification with the pioneer and most advanced supplier of product item business intelligence using any means of identification, we are now uniquely positioned to unlock additional solutions for our customers and enhance their Digimarc journey.”

EVRYTHNG is the market leader and pioneered the Product Cloud category, linking every product item to its Active Digital Identity™ on the web and joining-up product data across the value chain for visibility, validation, real time intelligence, and connection with people.

From enabling more sustainable, more transparent, and more secure supply chains to empowering consumers to verify the authenticity of products and recyclability of their packaging, combining Digimarc’s unique means of identification with the EVRYTHNG Product Cloud® makes it possible to gather and apply traceability data from across the product lifecycle, unlocking end-to-end visibility and authenticity through item-level, real-time intelligence and analytics.

“Not only are our product solutions and technology competencies directly complementary and naturally connected,” explains EVRYTHNG CEO & Co-founder Niall Murphy, “but our company values and cultures are deeply aligned, with a focus on executing as a team, committing to audacious goals, and genuine innovation with exceptional talent. We’re excited to join the Digimarc team to meet important customer needs with product data driven solutions.”

The acquisition expands the geographic footprint for both companies. EVRYTHNG, based in London with offices in New York, Beijing, Minsk, and Lausanne is finding much success in North America. Conversely, Digimarc, based in the Portland, Oregon area, has a growing customer base across Europe.

Investment will support the continued growth of leading games developer and publisher to build game portfolio and boost headcount 

Private equity firm LDC has completed a multi-million-pound investment in Marmalade Game Studio (Marmalade), a UK market leading games developer and publisher, to support the management team’s ambitious organic growth strategy and future game launches. The transaction marks the first successful exit for Bloc Ventures from its first portfolio company, having first invested in 2015.

Marmalade is the UK’s leading developer of mobile, console and PC board games. Its catalogue includes classics such as Monopoly, Cluedo and Game of Life, licensed by gaming giants such as Hasbro, with its most recent addition, Jumanji, inspired by the feature film. 

LDC’s investment will support the existing management team, led by joint CEOs Michael Willis and Cristina Mereuta, as they invest in the development of new games and recruiting new talent. The pair has already led the business through a period of exceptional growth over recent years, with revenues growing by over 100 per cent in the last three years.

Now, Marmalade continues to develop and publish high-quality family games across a wide range of platforms and licensors, targeting a number of new releases in 2022 and beyond, whilst continuing to invest in its growing team across its offices in London, UK and Lisbon, Portugal.

The investment in Marmalade was led by Dale Alderson, Jacob Leone and Aziz Ul-Haq at LDC in Manchester. As part of the transaction, Dale and Jacob will also join the board, alongside inbound Non-Executive Chairman Andrew Graham, formerly of games developer Mediatonic, which is known for games including Fall Guys – Ultimate Knockout and Foul Play.

Cristina Mereuta, joint CEO of Marmalade Game Studio, said: “We have seen people’s love for gaming blossom as they have fun and maintain connections with friends and family through gameplay. This has given us the opportunity to not only expand our portfolio of games, bringing some of the most well-loved titles to life in the digital world, but to continue recruiting the most exciting talent in the industry.”

Michael Willis, joint CEO of Marmalade Game Studio, added: “In LDC, we have a partner that is committed to backing our ambition and working closely with us to make our business plan a reality. It was also important to us that our backer was supportive of the strong working culture we have created, and we know from LDC’s track record they will help us to maintain the creative spirit and supportive environment that Marmalade is known for. With more game launches on the horizon and our recruitment drive ongoing, we’re excited to continue driving our expansion.”

Jacob Leone, Investment Manager at LDC in Manchester, added: “Michael and Cristina are truly inspirational leaders who have helped to transform Marmalade into the leading games business that it is today, nurturing strong relationships with its licensors to help bring classic games to life in the digital arena. The gaming industry has experienced exceptional growth in recent years, and Marmalade has seized the opportunity to provide players with the best quality games to enjoy.”

Bruce Beckloff, CEO at Bloc Ventures, commented: “Marmalade’s growth has been impressive. Since Bloc’s investment in 2015, we’ve worked with the management team to combine efforts around their strong gaming backgrounds and key industry relationships with our company building experience. We’re fortunate to have been part of the journey and are excited to see what the future holds for Marmalade with LDC.”

LDC has extensive experience working with technology firms across the UK, with particular expertise in supporting gaming businesses on their growth strategies. During a two-year partnership with indie games developer Team17 – led by CEO and Founder Debbie Bestwick – the business continued its significant success, with international sales increasing 40% and both revenues and EBITDA growing by more than 100% ahead of an IPO.