Scottish Online Safety Success Story Announces Series A Investment Round of Over £5M
Cyan Forensics Ltd, the Edinburgh based tech company that helps law enforcement, social media and cloud companies find and block harmful content from paedophiles and terrorists, has successfully completed a Series A investment round of just over £5 million led by Par Equity.
Lead investor Par Equity is joined in this round by existing investors Mercia, Triplepoint, SIS Ventures, Scottish Enterprise and the MacLeod Family Trust. This new round of funding brings Cyan’s support to date to just over £8m and will accelerate Cyan’s ambitious global growth plan over the next two years.
Cyan was founded in 2016 by Bruce Ramsay (CTO), a former police forensic analyst and key member of the research team behind its technology, and Ian Stevenson (CEO). Since it’s inception, Cyan has made considerable impact in UK law enforcement. Cyan Forensics’ tools allow police to find evidence of child abuse or terrorist activity on suspect’s computers in just minutes, replacing processes that previously took many hours and typically happened in a forensics lab weeks or months after an arrest.
Its rapid digital triage technology has been described by the UK Government as “game-changing” tech and has been assessed by the USA’s National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
(NCMEC) as “having the power to make a big impact in the fight against online child sexual abuse and imagery”. Cyan Forensics has a contract with the UK’s Home Office to provide their tools to police forces across the UK as part of the Child Abuse Image Database (CAID).
Ian Stevenson, CEO of Cyan, said:
“Our technology is already making a significant impact within counter terror and child sexual abuse investigations in the UK, and we’re excited to build on this momentum in mainland Europe and the US. We’ve built a great network of partners to support our ambitious growth plans, and our team will double in size during each of the next two years to support this growth.
“We’re delighted that Par is joining us as a lead investor, and that we continue to attract support from those investors that have backed us since the start. We believe globally we are at an inflection point, and that the UK is at the forefront of online safety tech and has a significant role to play in the global picture. Greater conversation, policy and integrated global change is needed to drive transformative solutions to safeguard online. Cyan is very much at the heart of this picture.”
Cyan Protect, Cyan’s ultra-fast moderation and blocking of criminal content, will be a big focus for the Scottish based company over the next 12 months. Based around the same powerful cutting edge technology, Cyan Protect helps social media platforms, messaging and cloud content sharing companies find and block child abuse and terrorist content, providing a vital first line of defence. The technology also enables better regulation, data sharing and uniquely it works in end-to-end encrypted messages without compromising user privacy.
Paul Munn, Managing Partner of Par Equity, said:
“Cyan aspires to solve a serious and growing issue facing our digital society. We’re delighted to be working with the Cyan team to help scale the business and are proud to lead this Series A round. The funding will help Cyan scale up, strengthen their position in global markets and build out further applications for the Contraband Filter technology in social media, cloud and other online use cases. As an active Seed to Series A investor, backing the best technology companies in the North of the UK, Cyan is in the sweet spot for us, and we’re excited about what the future holds.”
Chris Kilroy, Investment Director for Mercia Asset Management, said:
“After having seeded the business in late 2016, Mercia is delighted to continue to support Cyan alongside Par Equity and existing investors. Cyan has significant growth potential across a number of markets and we’re looking forward to continuing to support Ian and the team moving forward.”
Ian McLennan, Head of Ventures at Triple Point, said:
“We’re excited to continue our involvement with Cyan, a business that combines innovation and a strong growth story with the potential to make a significant positive social impact contribution as well.” Jill Arnold, Head of SIS Ventures, said: “As one of SIS Ventures’ first investments in mission-led businesses, we’re very happy to continue our support for Cyan and play a part in its ongoing success story. Ian and the team have consistently demonstrated their commitment to making a positive social impact through the innovative use of technology. Following Series A completion, as
Lead Impact Investor, we’re looking forward to helping them scale this impact in line with further growth.”
Notes to Editors:
Advisor to the process was Acuity and legal support was provided by Burness Paull in respect of Cyan, and Addleshaw Goddard on behalf of Par Equity.
For more information, please contact:
Rachel Goddard, Marketing & Comms
+44 (0) 7957 215252
Alison Dwyer [email protected]
Richard Morgan Evans / Sasha Johnson/Ruari Hutchinson/Patrick Sayers
T: 0203 195 240/07751087291
Nicola Boyle , Communications Manager
+ 44 (0) 7741 737671
- Cyan Forensics Ltd, or Cyan, is the overarching company name.
- Cyan is committed to tackling some of the most serious online harm issues in the world today – aspiring to a world where there is no place that harmful digital content can be easily hidden or shared.
- At the highest level Cyan technology works to empower governments to achieve policy objectives in child protection, and the reduction of radicalisation and terrorist activity
- Cyan’s cutting edge technology has inherently secure Contraband Filter technology at the
- core, which when applied to existing national databases of illegal material, can be used for detection.
- There are two arms of Cyan’s business:
– Cyan Forensics works to help law enforcement to catch paedophiles and terrorists, delivering tools that place the investigative capability of cutting-edge digital forensic science into the hands of frontline policing.
– Cyan Protect delivers ultra-fast moderation and blocking for criminal content, helping social media platforms, messaging and cloud content sharing companies find and block child abuse and terrorist content. Enabling better regulation and data sharing, Cyan Protect works in end-to-end encrypted messages without compromising user privacy and is a reliable, low cost, high performance and highly scalable first line of defence.
About Par Equity
Par Equity is a leading venture capital firm, based in Edinburgh, investing in innovative, high growth technology companies in the North of the UK. Since it was founded in 2008, Par Equity has invested more than £84m across 61 companies, leveraging a further £135m of capital from third party investors. Par’s investment focus is on enterprise technologies, and more specifically “deep tech”, i.e., companies with strong IP and technical expertise, including innovation across AI, photonics, energy storage, sensors, advanced materials, and nanotechnologies. The portfolio includes other rising stars like Current Health, Integrated Graphene, Qikserve, Cumulus and Novosound.
Par’s investment approach is to combine the professionalism and rigour of a venture capital manager with the skills and expertise of a broad base of individual investors who can add value throughout the investment life cycle. This investment approach has produced strong and consistent returns across 22 realisations to date, gaining UK wide recognition. Most recently Par won the “Highly Commended” award in the Best EIS Fund Manager category at the 2020 EIS Association Awards.
About Mercia Asset Management PLC
Mercia is a proactive, specialist asset manager focused on supporting regional SMEs to achieve their growth aspirations. Mercia provides capital across its four asset classes of balance sheet, venture, private equity and debt capital: the Group’s ‘Complete Connected Capital’. The Group initially nurtures businesses via its third-party funds under management, then over time Mercia can provide further funding to the most promising companies, by deploying direct investment follow-on capital from its own balance sheet.
The Group has a strong UK footprint through its regional offices, 19 university partnerships and extensive personal networks, providing it with access to high-quality deal flow. Mercia currently has c.£872million of assets under management and, since its IPO in December 2014, has invested c.£106million gross into its direct investment portfolio.
Mercia Asset Management PLC is quoted on AIM with the EPIC “MERC”.
About Triple Point Ventures
Triple Point Ventures is part of private investment firm Triple Point Investment Management LLP. The fund that has invested into Cyan is the Triple Point Impact EIS Service which invests in UK start-ups that have both strong growth prospects and products or services that make a positive social contribution.
About SIS Ventures
SIS Ventures is part of the Social Investment Scotland group and is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. It aims to support and grow high impact organisations through access to mission-aligned investment. Its goal is to become the go-to investor and partner for social entrepreneurs. Through their work, social entrepreneurs are helping to shape a more vibrant and cohesive economy, and the experienced SIS Ventures team will support them in creating greater social change.
About Scottish Enterprise
Scottish Enterprise is Scotland’s national economic development agency. They are committed to growing the Scottish economy for the benefit of all, helping create more quality jobs and a brighter future for every region.