Alongside this year’s Silicon Gorge: Spring Edition we’re going to be publishing profiles of a few of the companies that have made it through to the heats. This week, it’s Quantum Dice, an Oxford University spinout that’s supplying quantum random number generators for hardware encryption.
Here to answer our questions are Quantum Dice co-founders George Dunlop, Wenmiao Yu and Ramy Shelbaya.
What does your company do?
Quantum Dice is an award-winning Oxford University spin-out supplying quantum random number generators (QRNGs) to customers in the hardware encryption market. Quantum Dice is pioneering device-independent, self-certifying true random number generation. The unique DISCTM QRNG employs advanced silicon photonics technology to produce high-quality, certified randomness from an on-chip laser source. Formed by 6 Oxford graduates in July 2019, Quantum Dice is based at Oxford University Innovation and has since expanded to the world-leading Quantum Technology Enterprise Centre at the University of Bristol.
What problem are you trying to solve?
We live in an increasingly digitised world that is expected to be connected through 75 billion smart devices by 2025. All modern-day encryption relies on a source of random numbers for the generation of keys and codes. However the security of the random number generator is often overlooked to the user’s detriment. Cybercriminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated, with governments, tech companies and international regulatory bodies in an arms race to protect personal data and privacy.
Current random number generators are either algorithms which are only only partially random (PRNGs), or depend on physical processes such as radio-active decay or electronic noise (TRNGs). They have been repeatedly proven vulnerable to device-based attacks or are only sources of pseudo-randomness. In 2007, more than 750,000 Estonian electronic ID cards were compromised due to a flaw in encryption keys, directly resulting from faulty random number generation.*
What makes your solution unique?
Quantum Dice’s device exploits the inherently statistical nature of quantum mechanics to generate true random numbers. Furthermore, we are the only suppliers of device-independent self-certifying (DISCTM) QRNGs. Our unique DISCTM innovation (patent filed) assures the end-user of the reliability of the entropy output, even if the QRNG device itself is attacked.
The DISCTM protocol considers the imperfections of the source of randomness in the device (device independence). Its varying reliability is accounted for when assessing the amount of quantum randomness that can be extracted from the on-chip laser. The self-certification routine, continuously assesses the available randomness. This significantly simplifies the design requirements of the QRNG as it does not require cryogenics or single photon detection and facilitates a scalable solution that offers a unique combination of speed, security and versatility of integration.
What are you most proud of so far?
We are most proud of our team. The 6 faces of Quantum Dice were key to all of our successes and momentum thus far. Formed during Oxford University Innovation’s Student Entrepreneurship Programme, the team brought together Oxford students from a wide variety of technical backgrounds and expertise. Our team has operated efficiently from day one, each person specializing and focusing on the area they are best at while working with others to achieve what is best for the company. We believe that together we have the drive and capability to scale Quantum Dice into something truly game changing.
How much are you raising and what do you want to use investment for?
Quantum Dice is raising a seed funding round of £500k to cover technology and business development costs. Technology-wise, this will enable us to produce our first commercial product, a USB-sized standalone QRNG device, by Q1 2021 that can be easily integrated into existing infrastructure. The process of miniaturising the prototype will be divided into two development projects: (i) fabricating an optimised photonic integrated circuit (PIC) and (ii) developing fast integrated electronic circuitry to handle the generation and self-certification of random numbers. Part of the investment will also be used to develop relationships with proto customers and for business development related activities (e.g. Embedded World Nuremberg 2021, the key industry conference for Quantum Dice).
What tools/people/services/organisations helped you most?
Oxford University Innovation for organising the inaugural Student Entrepreneurs’ Programme (now StEP Ignite) where Quantum Dice formed, and the Oxford University Incubator programme. We had to thank Marco Palumbo, Cath Spence and Brendan Ludden at OUI for their continued support. Thanks also to Oxford Science Innovation for funding the StEP Ignite programme and providing the prize which allowed Quantum Dice to start our R&D to get to our prototype.
Quantum Technology Enterprise Centre at the University of Bristol (QTEC), where two of our founders, Wenmiao and George were awarded QTEC Enterprise Fellowships. QTEC is a world-leading incubator based at the Quantum Technology Enterprise Centre, University of Bristol for innovators for quantum-inspired technologies. It is an EPSRC skills and training hub, which is part of the £270 million government invested UK National quantum technologies programme. The QTEC directors and managers, Kimberley Brook, Andy Collins and Jane Garret, have all been steady sources of guidance, resources and expertise
Where can we find out more about you?
You can learn more about us on our Linkedin page.
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