Quantum Dice raises £2m for secure encryption keys

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By Nick Flaherty

UK startup Quantum Dice has raised £2m (€2.36m) in pre-seed funding to develop the world’s first compact and continuously self-certifying quantum random number generator (QRNG) for encryption and cybersecurity using integrated photonics.

The spinout of the University of Oxford has been at the QTEC quantum incubator in Bristol and is commercialising a patented source-device independent self-certification (DISC) protocol. This allows live continuous verification of the security of the output numbers rather than simply relying on statistical analysis.

A £1m venture capital consortium was led by Elaia Partners and includes the IP Group as well as the UK Innovation and Science Seed Fund (UKI2S) managed by Midven, part of the Future Planet Capital group. A further £1 million of non-dilutive grant funding was secured from the Quantum Investment Accelerator run by IP Group in partnership with Innovate UK.

Cybersecurity is becoming one of the most critical priorities for governments and the private sector, and RNG is a key technology. The team behind Quantum Dice is pioneering a solution for secure randomness based on quantum optics to address the flaws with the currently available technology.

“Despite multiple wide-reaching security failures, there is this widespread belief that current random number generators are good enough. This is because, so far, it’s difficult to prove or quantify the security advantages of quantum random number generators. Quantum Dice’s patented technology is here to change that, aiming to make quantum security accessible to all encryption applications,” said Dr Ramy Shelbaya, CEO and co-founder of Quantum Dice.

Founded in April 2020, Quantum Dice is a spinout from the University of Oxford’s Department of Physics where the DISC protocol was originally developed at the Quantum Optics research group headed by Prof Ian Walmsley. The initial QRNG prototype showed fast generation rate of 8.05 Gbit/s of quantum-secure randomness.

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Quantum Dice aims to complete the development of its first commercial quantum random number generator device by using the funding to expand the team and accelerate the miniaturisation of the integrated photonics technology. It is currently recruting for FPGAm PCB and photnics engineers. 

“We were convinced by the founders of Quantum Dice, some of whom had very strong relationships with one of the best Academics. We bring our experience in investing in quantum startups, our exclusive connections with the best research establishments, and our network of business partners, who have already expressed commercial interest, particularly in the areas of secure communications and financial models,” said Anne-Sophie Carrese, partner at Elaia.

Innovate UK is also supporting Quantum Dice by funding multiple R&D projects aimed at developing a commercially ready QRNG for various applications as well as developing internationally recognised hardware standards for QRNGs. Quantum Dice is partnering with a consortium of partners led by the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) to develop standards for QRNGs that are testable by third parties.

A spinout of the University of Bristol, KETS Quantum Security, is using integrated photonics for a PCI Express-based quantum encryption engine including random number generation.

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