NPIF Equity

Sitehop raises a further £5m for network security solutions

Sitehop – the Sheffield-based network encryption specialist backed by Mercia Ventures – has raised £5m in a seed funding led by Amadeus Capital Partners and Manta Ray Ventures. Mercia also participated in the round using funding from the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF) and its EIS funds, along with the founders of Event Horizon Capital & Osney Capital and angels including Silicon Catalyst founder Rick Lazansky and NEAR founder Illia Polosukhin.

Sitehop addresses a critical challenge in the digital age: that current software encryption solutions slow down communications networks by adding delay to the system. Communications infrastructure providers face the choice of incurring significant additional costs by laying down extra fibre capacity to minimise the latency caused by encryption or to run lines without encryption which creates unacceptable enterprise risks.

Sitehop helps businesses proactively handle the escalating threat level from increasingly sophisticated cyber criminals, with hardware-enforced enterprise encryption. Mercia first invested in Sitehop in early 2023 to help it commercialise its technology. Its flagship product, SAFEblade 1100, now offers a significantly more secure alternative to software-based solutions, being able to support over 4000 secure tunnels at once with an ultra-low encryption or decryption latency of less than 900 nanoseconds and at a data throughput of 100Gbps. This low latency is crucial in any scenario involving high bandwidth network traffic, such as data centres, the cloud, or edge computing environments.

The SAFE series of products is highly scalable, with additional devices being added as required to increase the volume of data handled. This creative solution makes Sitehop more cost-effective than competitors’ offerings that process data through a central computing platform. Sitehop also benefits the environment, dramatically reducing the power required for encryption by up to 90%.

Melissa Chambers, CEO, Sitehop, commented: “This investment allows us to expand our global reach, with sales and support engineering staff in Brazil, the US, India, and grow our Yorkshire headquarters. We will be adding engineers and production workers and moving into a new Sheffield location. The investment will also enable Sitehop to pursue its technology roadmap – fleshing out the range of SAFE products securing all types of data-in-motion, and developing parallel products using our world-class skillsets in cryptography and programmable hardware design. We aim to get Sitehop’s products into the backbone of most of the world’s networks in the next few years.”

Nick Kingsbury, Partner, Amadeus Capital Partners, said, “Sitehop is bringing a novel hardware-based approach to a fundamental challenge facing the providers of the essential network infrastructure underpinning our digital society. The flexibility and scalability of Sitehop’s data encryption technology makes it accessible to SMEs as well as large enterprises, meaning there need be no weak link in our defence against cyber criminality.”

Lawrence Barclay, Managing Director, Manta Ray Ventures, said, “We are really excited to partner with Melissa, Ben and the Sitehop team in the next phase of their journey. We have been incredibly impressed at how thoughtful and effective an approach they have taken to the increasingly critical challenge of network security. We are past the point of dependency on data connectivity and need to ensure enough attention is put on how it is secured without compromise on performance and with important attention to energy efficiency.”

The current NPIF investment phase has now completed with the British Business Bank launching the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund II in March 2024.

The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.