UCL spin-out Hazy adds $1.8 million in seed funding
August 1, 2018

Funding led by the UCL Technology Fund with participation from

Nationwide Building Society, Pentland, Amadeus Capital Partners and AI Seed

Hazy, the London-based AI company enabling ethical, effortless and GDPR-compliant data sharing for responsible businesses, has announced an additional $1.8 million seed funding led by UCL Technology Fund, alongside Nationwide Building Society, Pentland, Amadeus Capital Partners, AI Seed and other investors.

This takes Hazy’s total seed funding to $2.8 million following a $1 million investment from M12 and Notion, awarded to the company in May, after Hazy was declared the European winner of global startup competition Innovate.AI.

Hazy, founded less than 18 months ago, was spun out of UCL (University College London), and raised £340,000 pre-seed in October 2017 in a round led by the UCL Technology Fund, which is managed by Albion Capital in collaboration with UCLB.

Its online platform is the only product on the market to allow businesses to share data responsibly and securely through a workflow tool that automatically anonymises and adapts to changing datasets. Hazy’s artificial intelligence engine is able to seek out and anonymise personal data buried in datasets, ensuring companies stay fully GDPR-compliant when sharing data. Businesses using Hazy’s tool can confidently reassure customers that their data is being handled legally, securely and anonymously.

GDPR legislation means that use of an anonymisation tool like Hazy has become essential for businesses looking to share data for development and analysis or retain for future applications. The company has already launched its initial product, which allows businesses to share data securely under GDPR-compliant legal agreements, and will use the new funding to develop its automated data-anonymisation tool that will be able to optimise privacy for each use case.

Unlike its competitors, which target enterprises with bespoke solutions, Hazy is a cloud-based platform that requires no technical integration. As such, it is suitable for a range of businesses, from small companies to large multinationals. Despite being little more than a year old, the company is already working with customers ranging from startups to international banks and the UK government. Hazy projects that the global market for data liquidity could grow to as much as $3 trillion as companies look to ensure data compliance.

Hazy counts a number of the world’s leading artificial intelligence experts on its board, and was founded by Harry Keen, an experienced engineer, alongside James Arthur, the former CTO & co-founder of Opendesk, and Dr. Fintan Nagle, a visual neuroscientist at UCL specialising in machine learning and statistical modelling.

Harry Keen, CEO of Hazy, said: “In recent months we have seen a seismic cultural shift around data. Consumers are acutely aware of the importance of data security and GDPR legislation means that businesses rightly now consider safe data-handling as mission-critical.

“Our technology ensures that huge, unwieldy data sets are GDPR-compliant. Recognising that most companies don’t have data experts, Hazy has been built to require zero technical integration, or any technical expertise. We are proud to be working with organisations ranging from major banks and building societies, to small businesses and UK central government and we are excited to continue developing our solution as we launch our product more widely.”

David Grimm, Investment Director, Albion Capital, said; “Big data analytics offers unparalleled opportunities for start-ups and corporate giants alike, but also puts data security at the top of the agenda for the world’s regulators. Hazy’s solution is a game changer, enabling businesses to automatically anonymise complex datasets without the need for a lengthy technical integration with internal systems. We are excited to support the team through the next phase of growth.”

Emma Huntington, who leads Strategic Development, Innovation and Venturing at Nationwide Building Society said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Hazy, our second investment since launching the Society’s new venturing fund. By investing in early stage start-ups, like Hazy, we can be at the forefront of helping develop innovative products and services that will benefit our members both now and in the future.  We look forward to working with Hazy to help enhance the way we manage our data.’’

Penny Tarling, Investment Manager, Pentland said: ‘’Our objective is to back exceptional founders building businesses of the future which address huge opportunities in innovative and exciting ways. We are proud to be supporting Harry, James and Luke on their journey.’’

Alex van Someren, Managing Partner, Amadeus Capital Partners, said: “The Hazy team impressed us as part of the CyLon cyber security accelerator programme. Data anonymisation now poses considerable challenges to business and Amadeus is keen to invest in advances in the field. Hazy’s AI-based solution is a major step forward and with this new funding, the team is poised to grab market share in a rapidly growing sector.’’

 

About Hazy

Hazy is a data anonymisation platform that helps businesses use data responsibly and ethically. Hazy’s platform is automated through machine learning, helping companies identify and anonmyise personal data from large datasets whilst maintaining its utility, enabling Hazy’s customers to remain GDPR compliant. A UCL spin-out and winner of Microsoft Ventures Innovate.AI competition, Hazy was founded by experienced entrepreneurs alongside machine-learning scientists. Headquartered in London, the company is working with customers ranging from startups to international banks and the UK central government.

 

About Investors

 

AI Seed

AI Seed is a London-based VC fund that provides investment and support for the next generation of Artificial Intelligence founders. Every year AI Seed invests £100,000 each in up to 20 early-stage startups using the latest in artificial intelligence and machine learning to build great products and businesses that solve real world problems.

 

Albion Capital

Albion Capital Group LLP is a leading independent investment manager with a long-term record of partnering ambitious business. The Albion Group has funds of just over £1 billion under investment management or administration and has increasingly focussed on technology, specifically software and tech enabled services. Four Albion companies are presented in the latest Sunday Times Tech Track 100. Albion Capital Group LLP is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

 

Amadeus Capital Partners

Amadeus Capital Partners is a global technology investor. Since 1997, the firm has raised over $1bn for investment and used it to back more than 130 companies. With vast experience and a great network, Amadeus’ team of investors and entrepreneurs share a passion for the transformative power of technology. We invest in consumer services, financial technology, artificial intelligence, cyber security, medical technology, digital healthcare and digital media.

 

London Co-Investment Fund

The London Co-Investment Fund is founded and managed by Funding London and Capital Enterprise. It has raised £25m from the Mayor of London’s Growing Places Fund to co-invest in seed rounds between £250,000- £1,000,000, led by our selected co-investment partners.

 

M12

As the corporate venture arm for Microsoft, M12 typically invests in enterprise software companies in the Series A through C funding stage. As part of its value-add to portfolio companies, M12 offers unique access to strategic go-to-market resources and relationships globally.

 

Nationwide Building Society

Nationwide is the world’s largest building society as well as one of the largest savings providers and the second largest mortgages provider in the UK. It is also a major provider of current accounts, credit cards, ISAs and personal loans. Nationwide has around 15 million customers and members.

 

Notion

Notion is a venture capital firm focused on the enterprise tech of the future, the teams and companies that have what it takes to solve the biggest problems facing the business world, transforming entire industries in the process. The Notion team founded, built and exited two highly successful SaaS businesses — Star and MessageLabs and invests exclusively in enterprise tech and SaaS with the ambition to build category leaders.

 

Pentland Ventures

Pentland Ventures is the investment division of Pentland Group plc. Pentland Group plc is a privately held,  global brand management British company.

 

UCL Business PLC

UCL Business PLC (UCLB), part of UCL Innovation and Enterprise, is a leading technology commercialisation company that supports and commercialises research and innovations arising from UCL, one of the UK’s top research-led universities. UCLB has a successful track record and a strong reputation for identifying and protecting promising new technologies and innovations from UCL academics. UCLB has a strong track record in commercialising medical technologies and provides technology transfer services to UCL’s associated hospitals; University College London Hospitals, Moorfields Eye Hospital, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children and the Royal Free London Hospital. It invests directly in development projects to maximise the potential of the research and manages the commercialisation process of technologies from laboratory to market. www.uclb.com

 

UCL Technology Fund

The UCL Technology Fund is dedicated to investing in intellectual property commercialisation opportunities arising from UCL’s world-class research base, focusing in particular on the physical and life sciences. The Fund supports UCL in achieving the full potential of innovations that have prospects for outstanding societal and market impact, right through the development journey from initial proof of concept to practical commercial application.

The Fund is managed by Albion Capital, one of the largest independent venture capital investors in the UK, in collaboration with UCL Business. For further information please visit: www.ucltf.co.uk