Cavero Quantum, Leeds spinout, raises £2.2m

Professor Ben Varcoe and Dr Frey Wilson

Foresight Group, the regional private equity investment manager, has led a £2.2 million growth capital investment into Cavero Quantum Ltd alongside co-investor Northern Gritstone.

Cavero Quantum, a University of Leeds spinout, has developed a new passwordless encryption technology for secure key generation and authentication.

It is compatible with legacy hardware, requires little bandwidth and has the potential to be potentially secure against cyber attacks by quantum computers.

The technology has market application through replacing multi-factor authentication and one-time passwords with a high security, frictionless, passwordless form of authentication.

Founded by Professor Ben Varcoe and Dr Frey Wilson, Cavero Quantum will use the funding to begin commercialising its technology and launch its first product.

Varcoe will support Cavero Quantum alongside his existing role as Professor of Quantum Information Science at the University of Leeds, while Wilson will become Chief Technology Officer.

As part of the investment, the founders will be supported by the appointment of James Trenholme as CEO and Andrew Wallace as Chair.

Trenholme is an experienced software entrepreneur who has previously founded and exited an identity services start-up, while Wallace has significant deep-tech experience in quantum computing.

Richard Ralph, Investment Manager at Foresight, said: “Whilst Cavero Quantum’s technology is potentially revolutionary to quantum cryptography, it offers the potential for immediate improvements on existing cryptographic approaches due to its dual authentication and passwordless nature, thereby providing improved security against existing cyber attacks.

“The technology has been independently validated and we look forward to working with Ben, Frey, James, Andrew and Northern Gritstone to commercialise this innovative technology.”

Cavero Quantum CEO James Trenholme said: “The technology that Ben, Frey and the experimental quantum science team at the University of Leeds have built really is ground-breaking technology.

“It’s the first solution in the world that can replace security standards like ECDH without compromising on architecture and customer experience, keeping data safe for the future as Quantum computing becomes the norm. It’s an honour to lead Cavero Quantum. This is a great team, and I’m looking forward to building a great business together.”

Northern Gritstone CEO Duncan Johnson said: “Cavero Quantum’s technology is applicable today and has the potential to allow individuals, businesses and nations to function safely in a post-quantum world.

“Spun out of the University of Leeds’ innovation ecosystem, one of Northern Gritstone’s university partners, Cavero Quantum is an example of a world-class business of tomorrow built on the amazing science and technology that exists in the North of England today.”

Northern Gritstone is an investment business focused on science and technology-enabled businesses in the North of England. The firm was launched in July 2021 by the Universities of Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield. Its shareholders include some of the major pension funds in the North of England.

Professor Nick Plant, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation, University of Leeds, said: “It is inspiring to see how the experimental quantum science team at Leeds has developed solutions for such a critical issue in online security.

“Cavero’s technology will have a major impact on our global community, making sector-leading improvements and bringing financial savings to businesses. It is testament to the world-leading, innovative technology being driven by our region.”