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London-based Bitfount grabs $5M to reimagine future of data collaboration

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Image credits: Bitfount

London-based federated analytics and machine learning platform, Bitfount just announced that it has grabbed $5 million in seed funding. The round was led by Ahren and Speedinvest (that recently funded Lollipop, Bliq and Byrd).

Growth and development

The investment comes at a time when the company continues to accelerate its product development and expand its engineering and design teams with key hires. Also, the investment reflects the growing global demand for machine learning and analytics in every industry, alongside increased public and regulatory awareness of data privacy concerns, and the rise of the data-centric AI movement.

“Where traditionally the legal process behind sharing raw data between parties can take months or even years, Bitfount’s secure network instead allows algorithms to travel to datasets rather than the other way around, which means there needn’t be any disclosure of sensitive information. This new paradigm unlocks opportunities for both analysis and machine learning that were previously impossible – either because they required sharing of sensitive raw data, or because the contractual agreements were prohibitively complex,” explained Co-Founder Blaise Thomson at Bitfount.

Alice Newcombe-Ellis, Founding and General Partner of Ahren, said “Access to data is increasingly vital for businesses, but in today’s world requires zero trust approaches to data governance. Bitfount enables user-based access control with a product that cuts through the complexity of data collaboration, to help ensure organisations stay ahead from a security, regulatory and commercial perspective. We are proud to be supporting this proven team.”

Rick Hao, Partner at Speedinvest, added “Bitfount is strategically placed to create an ecosystem in which dataset owners can safely be analysed by external users. It is democratising the technology to fully unlock the power of data, and we are certain that many different industries will look to adopt their best-in-class product.”

Reimages future of data collaboration

Bitfount was founded in 2020 in London by ex-Apple alumni and Siri Understanding Chief Architect, Blaise Thompson (previously owned VocalIQ that was acquired by Apple) and Naaman Tammuz, ex-CPTO for DueDil. Already, the company has contracts with pharmaceutical companies, research institutions, hospitals, and major financial services firms.

Bitfount is on a mission to give data collaboration superpowers to any organisation working with sensitive datasets. Currently, it is accepting waitlist sign-ups for its public Beta launch. Also, it announced that Matt Seigel, who led the team behind Apple’s federated learning platform, which is deployed on hundreds of millions of iOS devices globally, has joined as the company’s Head of Engineering.

The Bitfount platform makes it possible for data scientists, researchers, business analysts and data custodians to share, access and collaborate on datasets without disclosing any of the sensitive, underlying data.

Bitfount’s product uses a zero-trust security model and a novel message-based architecture that makes it much easier and faster for IT teams to deploy than other federated solutions. They operate a hybrid open-source/SaaS model, with a developer-friendly, extensible SDK backed by a powerful web-based platform.

The platform provides a suite of functionality including a catalogue for dataset discovery, flexible and granular role-based access controls, full audit history, support for custom models, algorithms and data sources, and cryptographic tools such as differential privacy and secure multi-party computation (SMPC) for additional privacy guarantees. The company is initially focused on applications in healthcare, where typical data collaborations can currently take years to negotiate and finalise.

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