Optalysys, a Photonic Chip Company in Leeds, Raises £21 million


To create fully homomorphic encryption circuits, Optalysys has acquired £21 million in Series A funding from a group that includes Lingotto, Imec.xpand, and Northern Gritstone.

A variant of quantum cryptography known as fully homomorphic encryption (FHE) allows computations to be conducted on private data without having to first decrypt it.

Although this method is more secure than its unencrypted equivalent, Leeds-based Optalysys estimates that it uses “around one million times” as much computing power.

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

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

According to Optalysys, its photonic semiconductor accelerates the transmission of completely 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, who had previously worked in optical computing for 20 years, co-founded Optalysys with Robert Todd.

The technology from Optalysys is made to deal with this congestion. To speed up the FHE procedure, the business has developed a sophisticated photonic semiconductor, enabling encrypted data to be processed at rates comparable to those of its unencrypted counterpart. This raises the possibility of implementing FHE at the scale required by the most complex secure data applications.

Major industries with possible applications include manufacturing, healthcare, finance and banking, and machine analytics.

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