The Power of Confidential Data Collaboration — Why We Invested in Decentriq
By now it’s an overused cliché: “Data is the new oil”. Anybody who works with strong collections of data knows that the value of data is tremendous, but it is anything but a homogenous commodity. Getting the most out of existing data assets is a complex, demanding task. A huge and rapidly growing industry of analytics and machine learning companies focuses on this challenge.
Unlocking value from data is even more difficult when different companies or organizations want to collaborate on data and analytics. Some companies might have machine learning models or analytics capabilities that could help others unlock tremendous value from their data. But the IP and technical sophistication that goes into these models make them difficult to share — you can’t just hand out your valuable models to others. On the other hand, companies who own large collections of customer or transaction data are not willing or legally able to share this data with somebody else to conduct analytics on it.
This is the problem that Decentriq solves, our latest seed-stage investment at btov Partners. Decentriq is based in Zurich, Switzerland and makes a software infrastructure for confidential machine learning and analytics. With Decentriq’s product, the only place where an analytics or ML model from company A and confidential data from company B meet unencrypted is on the very CPU chip where the model is executed. Intel’s new SGX architecture is the underlying enabler, and other chip makers have announced similar capabilities. Decentriq can prove mathematically that nobody else in the chain (including Decentriq itself and the respective cloud provider) got access to these confidential assets.
This new approach unlocks tremendous possibilities for data collaboration. Decentriq’s first clients include insurance companies, financial services firms and healthcare corporations. They all deal with highly confidential data and need sophisticated machine learning capabilities from third parties to expand their business. Decentriq’s technology gets top-level attention at its client organizations because CEOs and CIOs understand the strategic importance of being able to utilize data across companies in entirely new ways.
Decentriq is one of the founding members of the Confidential Computing Consortium, side by side with tech giants such as Intel, Microsoft, Google, Huawei, Swisscom and Red Hat. The industry is clearly starting to understand the importance of confidential data collaboration and is setting new standards to enable this exchange of value. Decentriq with its cutting edge technology is bound to benefit from this new wave of capabilities. The team has been working on this technology for years and has a clear advantage in its capabilities and understanding of the market.
The company was founded by Maximilian Groth (CEO) and Stefan Deml (CTO). The two worked together previously at Swiss scale-up Teralytics and bring deep industry expertise to the table. One of the many things we liked about the team is that their academic backgrounds combine the strengths of two of Switzerland’s top universities — the business skills taught at the University of St.Gallen (Max) with the deep technology expertise coming out of ETH Zurich (Stefan). It’s a combination that the Swiss startup ecosystem should use much more frequently, and a great example for how well a team with truly complementary skills can perform.
btov Partners is leading Decentriq’s $3.8M seed round. We are joined by Paladin Capital Group, one of the world’s most experienced cybersecurity investors. Existing investors including pre-seed supporter Atlantic Labs joined the round as well, along with some high-profile angel investors.
We can’t wait to see what new possibilities for data collaboration Decentriq’s technology will enable for its customers and the broader machine learning and analytics ecosystem. Leveraging confidential data across organizations is opening a new chapter for the industry, and we are proud to support one of the very best teams in the space.