Data privacy startup Apheris has announced that is has raised €2.5m in a seed funding round that attracted investment from key names in technology.

UK seed investor LocalGlobe led the funding round, with additional investment in Apheris coming from Dig Ventures – the family office of MulseSoft founder Ross Mason – and former Google CFO and Twitter board member Patrick Pichette. Several venture capital firms and angel investors completed the round, including, System.One, Charles Songhurts, Torsten Reil and Ian Hogarth.

Apheris, which is based in Berlin, Germany, is tackling what is arguably one of the most challenging issues in enterprise technology: the balance between sharing data and maintaining the privacy of its subjects.

Concerns over data privacy mean many datasets are underutilised and unshared, limiting the insights that can be gained from them. Conversely, data that is shared without adequate privacy practices can have dire ramifications both the subjects and businesses.

“What this year has crystallised is that the world’s largest problems – from fighting pandemics and disease spread to developing life-saving drugs and reducing climate change – require collaborative efforts to solve,” said Robin Röhm, CEO and co-founder of Apheris.

“Access to the right data should not be the limiting factor to finding solutions and accelerating R&D and innovation. Apheris is the solution to enabling new ways to solve the complex problems of our time without sacrificing privacy or security.”

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By GlobalData

Apheris funding to enable pro-privacy data sharing

The startup, which was founded in 2019, has developed a platform that combines decentralised computing, cryptographic protocols and federated learning to preserve privacy while enabling data to be shared and used.

The technology, which is already in use by a variety of customers, is being applied to a wide variety of industries, including pharmaceuticals and drug discovery, research and development and supply chain optimisation.

Apheris presents a solution that is in high demand, which may explain why so many key investors contributed to the funding round.

“Enterprises are sitting on treasure troves of data that cannot be leveraged because it’s been an impossible task to open up data to third-party companies without losing data or diminishing its value,” said Ross Mason, founder of MuleSoft and Dig Ventures.

“Apheris is taking a novel approach to data collaboration, allowing data to be shared with partners with zero trust, enabling collaboration without giving up or compromising the data.”

The seed funding brings the total raised by Apheris to date to €3.7m, and although it is being said quietly, some are beginning to characterise the startup as a potential tech major in the making.

“Apheris is committed to building the next big tech company and has the ambition and team to do it,” said Julia Hawkins, partner at LocalGlobe.

“With its team of global experts in cutting-edge data science, cryptography, and privacy, Apheris has the potential to be the new standard for data collaboration that preserves privacy and security while enabling new insights and innovation.”

Read more: Data privacy predictions for 2020: Six industry experts have their say