Mercia EIS Funds

Spinout set to revolutionise digital forensics worldwide following new funding

An Edinburgh Napier University spinout that could dramatically cut the time it takes police to examine consumer devices for criminality has received major new investment.

Mercia Fund Management and the Scottish Investment Bank have committed a total of £240,000 to Cyan Forensics, whose product will initially target teams involved in child protection and counter terrorism.

Cyan Forensics helps digital forensics teams to deal with the backlog of digital devices that need to be scanned for illegal content as evidence in an investigation. It is based on research by a Napier research team overseen by Professor Bill Buchanan. Cyan Forensics’ CTO Bruce Ramsey was a key member of the research team and drew heavily on his experience as a former digital forensics expert for Lothian and Borders police and Police Scotland.

Examining the huge number of consumer devices seized in police investigations today is causing severe delays to the criminal justice system. The implications for this are serious, providing a window of opportunity to criminals or increasing the mental strain on someone who has been falsely accused.

Cyan Forensics is developing tools capable of performing an initial scan on a device in minutes, replacing a process which in the past has taken many hours, or even days. This allows forensics teams to prioritise devices for further investigation, saving hours in police time and securing evidence more efficiently.

The company is also building a secure system for the exchange of reference data between forces, which can help to ensure that every police force is working with the most complete and current information. This technology has the potential to revolutionise data sharing locally, nationally and internationally.

Paul Devlin, who heads Mercia’s Scottish investment team, said:

“It’s great to see research from Edinburgh Napier already achieving visible impact following positive feedback from all of the police users who have tested the system so far.

“The tools provided by Cyan Forensics have the potential to make a real and positive difference to the way criminal investigations are carried out, and could even save lives.”

Ian Stevenson, Cyan Forensics’ CEO, said:

“We are delighted to welcome Mercia Fund Management and the Scottish Investment Bank as investors. We have already benefitted from Mercia’s huge experience in commercialising University technology, and SIB has been hugely supportive.

“We’re really excited about the opportunities in the Digital Forensics market, and we look forward to delivering our technology for operational use in the coming year.”

Kerry Sharp, Head of the Scottish Investment Bank, said:

“Cyan is a great example of a company that has identified a natural niche, in a growing market, and designed a targeted product that has the potential to make a real impact. We are excited to support a company that will add to the armoury of cyber security tools and become one of a cluster of strong Scottish companies leading the way in this field.

“In addition to the equity investment, Scottish Enterprise has also approved a SMART: Scotland feasibility grant of £100,000 to build a demonstrator for the reference data exchange system that will allow the company to demonstrate the capabilities and security of the technology to potential customers. We look forward to working with Cyan to capitalise on the market opportunities presented by its innovative technology and helping it achieve its growth potential.”

Professor Bill Buchanan of the School of Computing at Edinburgh Napier University, said:

“This is now the third Cyber Security-related spinout from the award-winning research team within the Cyber Academy at Edinburgh Napier University. A number of patents for Cyan Forensics are now underway, which aim to be disruptive in their scope, bringing faster and more accurate methods of digital investigation. Overall, the Cyber Academy works with a wide range of industrial and law enforcement agencies around the world, with a focus on high impact research.”