Students Staff

27 April 2015

Spin-out Metrarc wins funding award from Innovate UK

Smart watch

New technology such as smart watches are gathering more and more personal data

Spin-out company Metrarc has won funding from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, for a cutting edge project aiming to massively improve security for personal data gathered by wearable technology such as the new Apple Watch.

The £164,000 project has received co-funding from Innovation UK’s Smart Proof-of-Concept Funding Scheme to support SecureIoT - Novel ICMetric Security for the Internet of Things (IOT).

Metrarc is a spin-out company from the University of Essex and the University of Kent. The SecureIoT project will investigate the proof-of-concept for employing new and innovative secure system techniques to prevent cybercrime and protect our privacy as more and more of our smart devices are linked together automatically.

A particular focus is dedicated sensor systems integrated into wearable technology which are often used to monitor our health and sporting performances and gather extensive personal data.

The project will build on highly significant research results, supported by £2 million of funding from the EPSRC and the European Union and protected by a suite of International Property Rights including two granted US patents.

Rapidly growing market

Metrarc Founder Dr Karl Heeks said: “The market for security based encryption for applications is growing rapidly and predicted to be enormous by 2020. We feel that there is a fantastic opportunity for key enabling technology from innovative companies such as Metrarc to help grow the IoT. Our technology provides a valuable solution which will be important in a whole area of markets where enhanced security is required. “

The interlinking of smart devices, known as the Internet of Things, is becoming more and more widespread. This means the ability to establish trust and provenance regarding the identity and integrity of devices and infrastructure becomes a vital concern in areas where user privacy and personal data need to be respected and cyber crime prevented.

One of the best ways to ensure data is not breached is by the use of encryption technology. However, current encryption technologies are vulnerable as they store the encryption keys.

Potential applications include healthcare and preventing cybercrime

Metrarc’s CEO Professor Klaus McDonald-Maier, who is also Director of Research at Essex’s School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, said: “Metrarc’s ICMetric technology does not store encryption keys or any other data and is therefore of great potential interest to IoT applications particularly where data security is important such as in healthcare applications.”

Metrarc’s CTO Dr Gareth Howells, Reader in Secure Electronic Systems at Kent’s School of Engineering and Digital Arts, said: “We are very pleased to have been awarded this significant funding from Innovate UK and are excited at the prospect of delivering two proof-of-concept demonstrators in the area of the quantified self, healthcare and sports, which will showcase our disruptive technology as suitable for licensing.”

Spin-out success at Essex

University of Essex Vice-Chancellor Professor Anthony Forster said: ““Metrarc has the potential to transform the market for security systems which protect our security and prevent cybercrime. The success of this spin-out company, the important research which has made it possible and Innovate UK’s support shows how Essex is helping develop new technologies which will change the way we live our lives.”

...more news releases