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Sebastian Klöckner

Security teams now backed with more than 3 million euros through CISPA

Research on the grand cybersecurity challenges that our society faces in the age of digitalization – that is the mission of the CISPA - Helmholtz Center for Information Security in Saarbrücken. Transferring research results into technological solutions and scalable business models is one of its core activities. Jointly with a dedicated business development team, CISPA researchers support tinkerers and future entrepreneurs. Private venture capitalists and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research are backing venture teams in the course of product development, business model conception and market entry. This is how funding of more than 3 million euros has been raised, creating 40 jobs. Three new venture projects have now been launched.

How can transactions within specific value chains be digitally depicted in a transparent way? Dr. Felix Schuhknecht, Ankur Sharma, and Prof. Jens Dittrich of the ChainifyDB team at Saarland University are dealing with this question. With their colleagues, they are working on an approach based on blockchain technology that will be applicable across industries. Hence, enabling business partners to conduct trusted transactions. The team around Schuhknecht and Sharma is now supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research to develop a corresponding proof of concept. The application process included a comprehensive technical discussion with CISPA research experts, thus not only refining the underlying technological approach, but also initiating first pilots with corporate partners.

The Vipfy team has already founded its company. Their digital marketplace enables organizations to manage all of their employees’ cloud logins in a centralized instance. The security of such an environment is of paramount importance. The one-year project funding enables the team to develop and train intelligent algorithms automatically detecting unauthorized users by their mouse movements and blocking them within the system. The underlying approach has been evaluated in several user studies in an exchange with researchers at CISPA. Now the team is working on an integration of the solution into the existing product.

Amir Baradaran and Michael Kellermann are facing a similar challenge. Running by the name Foldio, the two founders distribute foldable animal figures made of interactive paper, thus playfully teaching children digital skills. First product items which were available at the end of 2019 were sold out within hours. In addition to its customers, this approach has now also convinced the Federal Ministry of Research supporting a continuing development of programming stories in the area of IT security and privacy. Together with their team, Baradaran and Kellermann are currently looking for new staff and are in contact with additional investors to continue expanding their market success in the future.

The venture projects J.A.R.V.I.S., ChainifyDB, Vipfy, and Foldio are backed with funding of more than 3 million euros. Initially, more than 40 jobs will thus be created at the Saarbruecken site, which could multiply if the business models scale accordingly after the project duration of one year. CISPA Incubator currently supports more than two dozen project teams in product development and go-to-market in the area of IT security. Novel solutions are being developed in the areas of anomaly detection, machine learning, software testing, and IoT security, among others.

CISPA supports soon-to-be founders in ideation and seed phase. Its entrepreneurial services include co-founder matching, coaching in product development, business model conception, market entry, moderated exchange with research experts, fundraising as well as backed market entry through an international network of corporate research partners.

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research supports entrepreneurial teams in the area of IT security and privacy. Within the StartUpSecure initiative, early stage venture teams can apply for funding to develop initial proof of concepts for technical solutions or to back market entry after a technological proof of concept has been proven. For early stage security startups, this support comes equity-free and without any obligation in terms of private VC investments.


Lukas Bieringer;