Edinburgh Napier project LastingAsset has been awarded £220k from Scottish Enterprise and The Data Lab.
A fantastic development is underway at Edinburgh Napier University as their innovative project, LastingAsset, receives a generous boost of £220,000 in funding. This exciting endeavour aims to tackle the growing menace of phone-based impersonation and imposter scams, causing significant financial losses, privacy violations, and distress to people worldwide.
Funding to fine-tune product
Originating as a concept for crypto asset security, LastingAsset has now received £200,000 from the Scottish Enterprise’s High Growth Spinout Programme and an additional £20,000 from The Data Lab. The passionate team at ENU’s School of Computing, Engineering, and the Built Environment (SCEBE) is all set to put their creative technology to the test. Over the next year, they’ll collaborate with pilot customers to fine-tune their anti-fraud product before introducing it to the market.
What makes LastingAsset stand out are its remarkable privacy features, including cutting-edge encryption technology designed to thwart rogue actors attempting to impersonate an organisation’s phone number and deceive unsuspecting victims.
Game-changer in the battle against online scamming
In the face of alarming statistics, such as the UK Government’s report on a staggering £2.35 billion lost through fraud in 2021, with the banking and finance industry alone suffering a £1.3 billion blow, LastingAsset’s mission couldn’t be more timely. This project will be a game-changer in the battle against phone scams and fraud, offering hope for a safer and more secure future for individuals and organisations.
“Our research team were initially working on a custodial solution for crypto assets. While this remains a problem that needs addressing, we wanted to provide a solution to a more pressing societal challenge. This is when we pivoted to using the same underlying technologies to address the problem of impersonation phone call scams.
“In today’s modern digital world, businesses often find themselves unable to effectively protect their customers from cyber fraud, which tarnishes their reputation and their ability to use the voice calls effectively.
“The LastingAsset solution uses blockchain and homomorphic encryption technologies to effectively combat phone number spoofing, voice-based impersonation and cloning scams, without requiring the organisation to build a new security infrastructure.
“With this, any organisation that communicates with their customers by voice can assure customers that they are speaking with a genuine representative and not a scammer.
“We are beginning trials with two pilot customers and opening our waiting list for additional pilots. It is going to be an incredibly exciting and rewarding journey over the coming months, as we translate our proof of concept and vision into a valuable offering to clients and stop scammers from defrauding fellow citizens.”
Project leader Dr Zakwan Jaroucheh, Edinburgh Napier University
Cyber spin-out heritage
Recently named one of the top 10 universities in the UK for spin-out activity, ENU has supported the creation of many cyber spin-out businesses over the last 10 years, including: Cyacomb, MemCrypt, Symphonic Software and ZoneFox. Four years ago, the university created the first identity lab in the world, the Blockpass ID Lab, which has focused on creating more trustworthy systems, and has a strong focus on creating systems which move towards a tokenised economy.
Supporting Dr Jaroucheh with LastingAsset’s progression, from research project to a spin-out business, are a technical team consisting of ENU’s Professor Bill Buchanan OBE and Dipankar Sarkar, and a commercial team led by Nanik Ramchandani of Imagine Ventures and Dr Cathy Higginson, Business Development and Relationship Manager at the University’s Research, Innovation and Enterprise Department.
Increasing credibility before launch
This latest funding received from Scottish Enterprise and The Data Lab will help the LastingAsset project team to integrate their solution with multiple early pilot customers. Over the next eight to 12 months, they expect to work with more than 30 initial pilot customers in securing their voice communication. This process will allow the team to refine the architecture of their product; test their solution and increase its credibility. At the end of this period, they anticipate product-market fit and the ability to rapidly scale their offering.
“Edinburgh Napier University has an enviable track record of producing companies whose products and platforms direct cutting-edge technological advancements into efforts to combat increasingly sophisticated fraudsters.
“Our grant builds on the funding and advice provided previously to LastingAsset at its earliest stages and underlines Scottish Enterprise’s commitment to supporting the development of the high-growth industries of the future.”
Leah Pape, Head of High Growth Services at Scottish Enterprise
The Data Lab, Scotland’s innovation centre for data and AI, also recently funded £20k to help LastingAsset develop their proof of concept.
“Online scamming can have devastating impacts on unsuspecting victims’ finances and mental wellbeing, with recent advances in AI exacerbating the problem.
“Preventing people from falling victim to these crimes in the first place is key. The Data Lab were delighted to support the LastingAsset team at Edinburgh Napier University to develop their groundbreaking technology further to tackle online scamming and reduce the number of victims and financial losses.”
Brian Hills, CEO of The Data Lab
Business funding support
If you’re looking for funding for your innovation project, visit The Data Lab’s funding page: