New backing for online safety success story
Edinburgh Napier spin-out Cyan Forensics Ltd, the tech company that helps law enforcement, social media and cloud companies find and block harmful content from paedophiles and terrorists, has successfully completed a Series A investment round of just over £5 million led by Par Equity.
Lead investor Par Equity is joined in this round by existing investors Mercia, Triplepoint, SIS Ventures, Scottish Enterprise and the MacLeod Family Trust. This new round of funding brings Cyan’s support to date to just over £8m and will accelerate Cyan’s ambitious global growth plan over the next two years.
Cyan Forensics’ technology has been built by experts in digital forensics, originally off the back off three years of research and development with Edinburgh Napier.
It was founded in 2016 by Bruce Ramsay (CTO), a former police forensic analyst and key member of the research team behind its technology, and Ian Stevenson (CEO). Since it’s inception, Cyan has made considerable impact in UK law enforcement. Cyan Forensics’ tools allow police to find evidence of child abuse or terrorist activity on suspect’s computers in just minutes, replacing processes that previously took many hours and typically happened in a forensics lab weeks or months after an arrest.
Its rapid digital triage technology has been described by the UK Government as “game-changing” tech and has been assessed by the USA’s National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) as “having the power to make a big impact in the fight against online child sexual abuse and imagery”. Cyan Forensics has a contract with the UK’s Home Office to provide their tools to police forces across the UK as part of the Child Abuse Image Database (CAID).
Ian Stevenson, CEO of Cyan, pictured, said: “Our technology is already making a significant impact within counter terror and child sexual abuse investigations in the UK, and we’re excited to build on this momentum in mainland Europe and the US. We’ve built a great network of partners to support our ambitious growth plans, and our team will double in size during each of the next two years to support this growth.
“We’re delighted that Par is joining us as a lead investor, and that we continue to attract support from those investors that have backed us since the start. We believe globally we are at an inflection point, and that the UK is at the forefront of online safety tech and has a significant role to play in the global picture. Greater conversation, policy and integrated global change is needed to drive transformative solutions to safeguard online. Cyan is very much at the heart of this picture.”
Cyan Protect, Cyan’s ultra-fast moderation and blocking of criminal content, will be a big focus for the Scottish based company over the next 12 months. Based around the same powerful cutting edge technology, Cyan Protect helps social media platforms, messaging and cloud content sharing companies find and block child abuse and terrorist content, providing a vital first line of defence. The technology also enables better regulation, data sharing and uniquely it works in end-to-end encrypted messages without compromising user privacy.
Paul Munn, Managing Partner of Par Equity, said: “Cyan aspires to solve a serious and growing issue facing our digital society. We’re delighted to be working with the Cyan team to help scale the business and are proud to lead this Series A round. The funding will help Cyan scale up, strengthen their position in global markets and build out further applications for the Contraband Filter technology in social media, cloud and other online use cases. As an active Seed to Series A investor, backing the best technology companies in the North of the UK, Cyan is in the sweet spot for us, and we’re excited about what the future holds.”
Chris Kilroy, Investment Director for Mercia Asset Management, said: “After having seeded the business in late 2016, Mercia is delighted to continue to support Cyan alongside Par Equity and existing investors. Cyan has significant growth potential across a number of markets and we’re looking forward to continuing to support Ian and the team moving forward.”
Ian McLennan, Head of Ventures at Triple Point, said: “ We’re excited to continue our involvement with Cyan, a business that combines innovation and a strong growth story with the potential to make a significant positive social impact contribution as well.”
Jill Arnold, Head of SIS Ventures, said: "As one of SIS Ventures’ first investments in mission-led businesses, we’re very happy to continue our support for Cyan and play a part in its ongoing success story. Ian and the team have consistently demonstrated their commitment to making a positive social impact through the innovative use of technology. Following Series A completion, as Lead Impact Investor, we’re looking forward to helping them scale this impact in line with further growth.”