UCL Tech Fund invests in data anonymisation start-up
The UCL Technology Fund is backing data anonymisation software developer Anon AI as part of a £340,000 pre-seed round, in partnership with the London Co-Investment Fund (LCIF), AI Seed and Ascension Ventures.
Anon AI is developing software which is designed to automate data anonymisation to help developers and data scientists share data securely.
The firm is aiming to tap into businesses' need to beef up the protection of personal data and maintain data security; both key requirements of GDPR.
Anon AI insists the investment will enable it to enhance its prototype model and build what it claims will be a 'best in class' developer tool, in partnership with the UCL community. The team, led by chief executive Harry Keen and chief technology officer James Arthur, will work with the university to advance its machine learning techniques and engage with public policy as GDPR goes live on May 25 this year.
Dr Fintan Nagle, a machine learning researcher in UCL's Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, will work with Anon AI to enhance the natural language processing capabilities of its software. His AI expertise will steer the development of bespoke data classification and normalisation systems.
Anon AI is the fourth AI business the UCL Technology Fund has invested in since it was launched in January 2016 to support academics whose research has commercial potential. It is the first in partnership with LCIF.
UCL Technology Fund investment managet David Grimm said: "Organisations are drowning in data and will face extensive compliance requirements once GDPR comes into effect this year.
"Anon AI addresses the dual challenge of maintaining the security of mass personal data and preserving innovation. Its experienced team and cutting edge AI software give it an excellent opportunity to take an industry leading position in a market which stands at £30m+ in the financial services industry alone."
Anon AI's Keen added: "This investment will enable us to create a tool that addresses one of the biggest challenges facing businesses today: avoiding the potentially catastrophic consequences of a data breach, while tapping into a vast source of opportunity."