Two Irish cybersecurity start-ups bag European award nominations

29 Jun 2022

Angoka COO and co-founder Daniela Menzky. Image: Maxwell Photography

Cork-based Vaultree and Belfast’s Angoka emerged victorious at a cybersecurity pitching event hosted by Enterprise Ireland.

Two cybersecurity start-ups from the island of Ireland, Vaultree and Angoka, have been nominated for the European Cybersecurity Startup Award after taking part in a pitching event in Dublin yesterday (28 June).

The Cyber Investor Days event was hosted by Enterprise Ireland, the European Cyber Security Organisation (ECSO), Cyber Ireland and the Women4Cyber Foundation. It saw 12 European start-ups pitch their business ideas to VC investors and industry executives.

Investors from across Ireland and mainland Europe were joined by representatives from major companies including Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, PwC, EY, Bank of Ireland and the European Investment Bank.

The start-ups pitching – eight of which were from Ireland – were seeking a combined value of around €50m in funding from the investors present at the business matchmaking event.

“Ireland has become an international leader in cybersecurity, home to more than 40 multinational companies with cybersecurity operations and over 60 Irish cybersecurity companies and start-ups,” said Kevin Buckley, senior development adviser in Enterprise Ireland’s high-potential start-ups division.

According to Buckley, cybersecurity companies and start-ups in Ireland collectively employ more than 6,500 people.

“While putting a spotlight on Ireland’s cybersecurity strengths, Cyber Investor Days provides a great platform for European cyber companies to connect with investors and new corporate customers.”

Funding gap for start-ups

There is a “significant funding gap” between Europe and the US in terms of investment in cybersecurity companies, with those in the US raising up to four times more funding on average than European ones, according to Cyber Ireland cluster manager Dr Eoin Byrne.

Byrne noted that a recent report by Cyber Ireland on the state of the cybersecurity sector in Ireland found that 26pc of surveyed companies in this space faced issues with raising or securing finance. A skills shortage also contributes to challenges faced by start-ups in cybersecurity.

“This matchmaking event is critical to provide access to finance, and access to markets, for Irish and European companies to scale rapidly, increase sales and serve larger clients.”

As well as funding opportunities, the event also saw two start-ups receive nominations for the European Cybersecurity Startup Award.

Cork-based Vaultree is working towards building real-time searchable and fully homomorphic encryption technology. The aim is to help highly regulated organisations access and use their data without having to reveal encryption keys or the data content to a tech or cloud provider.

Vaultree raised seed funding of $3.3m last November. It was founded in 2020 by a team of engineers and tech professionals to build scalable, privacy-enhancing tech and encryption-as-a-service tools.

Meanwhile, Belfast’s Angoka is an IoT security company focused on protecting machine-to-machine communications for smart cities and mobility. It develops technology that protects devices’ identities and safeguards critical communications integrity and data provenance.

Angoka was one of eight start-ups vying for the top spot in the Irish leg of the KPMG Global Tech Innovator 2022, which was eventually bagged by Limerick’s Provizio. As well as Belfast, Angoka also has offices in London and The Hague.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic