UltraSoC-led consortium secures £2m Innovate UK funding

UltraSoC, a portfolio company of eCAPITAL, has secured £2m in support from Innovate UK (the innovation agency of the UK Government), for an ambitious co-funded project that will improve the safety and security of tomorrow’s connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs).

The project, a collaboration between UltraSoC, the Universities of Southampton and Coventry, and cybersecurity specialist consultancy Copper Horse, aims to improve the security and safety of citizens and infrastructure by developing the world’s first on-chip monitoring solution for CAVs.

The project is based on UltraSoC’s unique embedded analytics technology, which allows technology companies to design self-monitoring capabilities into the microchips that power their products. Machine Learning (ML) experts from the University of Southampton will work alongside UltraSoC engineers to develop algorithms and code to intelligently identify security and safety issues, while the Institute of Future Transport at Coventry University will develop a testbed demonstrator representing a full-scale automotive functional architecture to prove the resulting solutions. Finally, Copper Horse will model cybersecurity scenarios and test the robustness of the project’s output.

UltraSoC’s embedded analytics deploy dedicated hardware to identify security problems such as hacking far more quickly and reliably than traditional software techniques. The complexity of connected and autonomous automotive systems and their critical safety implications create a compelling need for such capabilities.

Cybersecurity and functional safety risks in these CAV applications are real. We are proud to have been recognized by Innovate UK for our ability to deliver safer and more secure systems for the automotive industry. We look forward to collaborating with our partners and consultants in following through to deliver an improved embedded infrastructure for connected and autonomous vehicles which will ultimately improve the safety of our citizens and infrastructure.

Aileen Ryan,
UltraSoC’s Chief Strategy Officer

Willi Mannheims, Managing Partner at eCAPITAL, comments: “We are excited about this step towards a cybersecurity solution for autonomous driving. UltraSoC is fitting 100 % to our cybersecurity fund. UltraSoC has developed a novel approach to cybersecurity that places anomaly detection directly into the silicon, enabling hardware-based threat detection. This can identify attacks very quickly – in microseconds rather than milliseconds. It is also more robust than traditional techniques, because it is ‘below the OS’ and is therefore very hard for an attacker to detect, circumvent or subvert.”

Innovate UK is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government. With a strong business focus, its aim is to drive productivity and economic growth by fostering new ideas and innovations. Since 2007, it has invested around £2.5bn to help businesses across the UK to innovate, with match funding from industrial partners taking the total value of projects to over £4.3bn.

Professor Siraj Shaikh from the Institute of Future Transport at Coventry University, added, “We are delighted to be working alongside UltraSoC and its partners to ensure that any CAV system delivered to market, is fit for market: robust and thoroughly tested.”

Mark Zwolinski, Professor at the University of Southampton, also commented, “Our team is a leading authority in on-chip machine learning methods and we look forward to working closely with UltraSoC’s engineers to develop an embedded analytics solution to meet the stringent criteria of these mission critical and life-protecting systems.”

David Rogers MBE, CEO of Copper Horse, said: “While many companies are trying to tackle cybersecurity risks from the outside-in, UltraSoC’s technology is at the core of the device and hence is able to address concerns from the inside. We are delighted to have been part of the Innovate UK grant bid and look forward to working on the security of the solution, based on known and potential attacks.”

About UltraSoC’s automotive embedded analytics technology
UltraSoC’s embedded analytics creates an independent monitoring infrastructure that can operate without interfering with the operation of the main system and, being hardware-based, responds much more quickly than conventional solutions. Unexpected or anomalous CPU transactions can be immediately flagged or blocked; faults or malicious attacks in sensor systems can be similarly detected. Developers can also implement ‘black box’ type forensic trace capabilities, logging on-chip activity and creating a digitally signed record that can be used to track the progression of a malicious attack, or determine legal liability.

For these reasons, UltraSoC’s technology and experience fits perfectly in safety-critical and security applications: providing greater insights and monitoring that allow automotive system developers to more easily satisfy the functional safety, risk assessment, testing, reporting and traceability requirements of standards such as ISO26262, IEC 61508, EN50126/8/9 and CE 402/2013, and facilitating the move to cybersecurity standards such as ISO21434 and SAE J3061.

UltraSoC’s recently-announced lockstep solution supports any processor type, and is specifically targeted at safety-critical applications such as those in automotive system design. The UltraSoC Lockstep Monitor is a hardware-based, scalable solution which significantly helps functional safety by checking that the processors at the heart of a critical system are operating reliably, safely and securely. Lockstep operation is needed for automotive safety standards such as ISO26262.

For more information on UltraSoC’s embedded analytics for automotive applications, see here.

eCAPITAL is a venture capital firm that provides early to growth stage funding to technology companies in the fields of software & information technology, cybersecurity, industry 4.0, new materials and cleantech. Founded in 1999, eCAPITAL has a history of supporting entrepreneurs determined to build companies with lasting significance. Partnering with eCAPITAL means joining an international network of business leaders, entrepreneurs, technologists and potential partners. eCAPITAL is located in Germany and currently manages funds with over EUR 220 million under management.

UltraSoC Technologies Ltd
Andy Gothard / David Marsden
St John’s Innovation Centre
Cowley Road, Cambridge, United Kingdom
eMail: andy.gothard@UltraSoC.com
Tel.: +44 7768 082 044
eMail: david.marsden@UltraSoC.com
Tel.: +44 7968 407 739

Sylvia Richter
Hafenweg 24
48155 Münster, Germany
Tel.: +49 251 70 37 67 0
eMail: info@ecapital.vc