For our Startup Spotlights, Times of Entrepreneurship scouted the most successful startups that spun out of top university competitions and programs. The impact of such awards can be many years in the making, especially in the DeepTech space.
Name: Quantum Dice
Location: Oxford, Englad
Interviewee: Wenmiao Yu, co-founder and director of business development
Which university challenge did you win and when? Or how are you affiliated to a university?
Quantum Dice won Oxford University Innovation’s inaugural Student Entrepreneurs’ Programme (StEP Ignite) in 2019. It gave students the opportunity to choose a piece of patented technology owned by the university, to develop an initial business plan and pitch around over the course of four weeks. The patent that underpins Quantum Dice’s self-certifying Quantum Random Number Generator technology was developed at the University’s Department of Physics – it is owned by the University of Oxford and licensed to Quantum Dice on an exclusive and perpetual basis. We are now a separate entity from the university but given that all of the founding team are Oxford alumni, we still retain very close connections with the University of Oxford!
What is your elevator pitch? Has it changed much since you started?
Revolutionising key generation for cybersecurity! It is and always has been our goal to ensure that individuals and organizations alike can enjoy long-term data security.
What should we know about you?
We live in an increasingly data-centric world that is expected to be connected through 75.4 billion devices by 2025. All that data is secured by encryption protocols, and all encryption protocols depend on a source of random numbers. Currently used random number generators are failing for two reasons:
- They are either only pseudo-random and hence vulnerable to bias and brute force attacks, or
- They are physical true random number generators and are hence vulnerable to hardware attacks.
Quantum Dice’s solution is to leverage the inherently statistical nature of quantum mechanics to offer a true (and high-speed!) random number generator (QRNG). What makes our product unique is the patented self-certification protocol which was developed at Oxford – it solves the last problem mentioned above as it is able to mitigate hardware attacks. In fact, the user is always guaranteed, in real-time, of both the quality and quantity of true random numbers generated from our device.
What are you looking for?
Innovative organizations partner with us on collaborative engineering projects. To give a sense of flavour, we are currently working on a number of application-led projects, with hardware encryption system developers to integrate our QRNG into their devices. These range from developing the first space-suitable QRNG to put inside a satellite-Quantum Key Distribution payload, and also to test the functionality of our QRNG within traditional hardware security modules used to secure telecommunication networks.
Why should someone invest in you?
The £5.6 billion global opportunity predicted for QRNGs by 2026 (Inside Quantum Technology, 2021). Numbers aside, industry experts such as Dr. Andrew Lord, head of global R&D at British Telecoms, are increasingly looking to QRNGs as the future of secure key generation that’ll be vital to our day-to-day lives.
How much total funding have you raised so far and from which sources?
£2m pre-seed, near equal split from international venture capital funds – UK Innovation and Science seed fund through Midven, IP Group and Elaia Partners – and Innovate UK, the United Kingdom’s dedicated innovation agency.
How many employees work for your startup?
Currently 6 full-time employees but actively growing. We are always open to hearing from electronics engineers, photonics engineers and cryptographers who want to join our Oxford-based team!
Is there clear evidence of success you would like to share?
For us, a start-up’s success really is dependent on the strength of the team behind it. The fact that Quantum Dice’s five founders first met at a student programme in July 2019 and supported each other through a global pandemic (which meant that the majority of the time was spent working remotely) and now, just two years later have completed their first fundraise which was launched at the height of COVID-19, built a working QRNG demonstrator and secured multiple projects with industry partners, is testament to the spirit of the founding team.
If you would describe your startup to have a superpower, what would it be?
Reactivity and a team that is always ready to “do”!