Kent Cyber-Security Spin-Out Acquired By Crossword Cybersecurity

Verifiable Credentials Ltd (VCL), a University of Kent spin-out, has recently been purchased by technology commercialisation company, Crossword Cybersecurity Plc, following CEO and Professor David Chadwick’s work to prove the commercial viability of the cyber security technology developed at Kent.

Crossword Cybersecurity was first introduced to VCL when David Chadwick, as Professor of Information Systems Security at the University of Kent, brought his academic team to participate in the InnovateUK / UKRI CyberASAP programme in 2019. The programme aims to help academics commercialise their cyber security ideas, and includes support and training from Crossword. This helped David Chadwick to convert the new technology resulting from his academic research into a commercial product.

The technology, known as Identiproof, is central to the issuing of digital certificates and documents that cannot be forged or transferred, and that respect the privacy of the holders of those certificates. It does this through the process of selective disclosure, whereby the recipient requests the minimum of information in conformance with GDPR. It is currently being used in a UK Government funded trial of COVID-19 certificates for East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust (EKHUFT), and has applications including digital ticketing, certificates, licenses, memberships, passports, proof of ownerships, and more.

Having agreed to pay up to £2.75 million to acquire VCL, Crossword will not only gain this innovative technology, but also access to David Chadwick’s expertise in the field of digital identity and verifiable credentials, when he takes on the role of Product Director at the company. He will be joined at Crossword by VCL’s specialist development team.

David Chadwick said of the relationship, “Identiproof is unique in the market and with Crossword’s great structure, connections and sales team – we’re expecting to achieve excellent revenue growth.”

Tom Ilube, CEO of Crossword Cybersecurity plc, added, ‘VCL has unique knowledge and a fantastic product in the new era of W3C verifiable credentials – which can and should power COVID certificates as well as all manner of digital, secure and privacy-respecting credentials, certificates, tickets and proofs of ownership. We know Professor Chadwick and his start-up team well from CyberASAP and believe Identiproof is a perfect fit for Crossword as our third product. This acquisition comes at a time when we are experiencing great success from strategies to increase Rizikon market penetration, particularly the launch of Rizikon Pro. In the last 6 months this has increased 10 fold, with the number of Rizikon users exceeding 250.’

Shane Weller, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research & Innovation at Kent, commented, ‘The acquisition of Verifiable Credentials Ltd by Crossword Cybersecurity is a fantastic opportunity for both parties. Since first engaging with David and his team at Innovate UK’s Cyber ASAP programme two years ago, Crossword have shown enthusiasm and support for the start-up, driving a strong collaborative relationship between the two. This acquisition further confirms Crossword’s recognition of the value that academic knowledge fostered at Kent can bring to the process of innovation.’

Professor David Chadwick has an ongoing association as an Honorary member of the Institute of Cyber Security for Society (iCSS), at the University of Kent. iCSS represent the University as one of only 19 universities in the UK recognised as Academic Centres of Excellence in Cyber Security Research (ACE-CSR).