Isle of Man-based consultancy Sorcery has partnered with Norcliffe Capital in a bid to assist Wi-Fi Securities secure extra capital and push for full commercialisation. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool digital security specialist Wi-Fi Securities is looking to raise more than £8m to develop its patented product which protects public wi-fi from online fraudsters.
Open access wi-fi networks are now all around, allowing us to use our laptops and mobile devices in coffee shops, hotels, bars, restaurants, shopping malls and train stations, often free of charge.
However, this increased accessibility carries with it the risk of so-called ‘evil twin’ attacks, where criminals set up fake wi-fi hotspots, pretending to from a legitimate source, potentially giving them access to personal data and banking details.
Based in Liverpool Science Park, Wi-Fi Securities has developed a product called SpriteGuard which offers protection to open access wi-fi networks. It is already being tested at several leading hotels in London prior to a planned wider roll-out in 2020.
Now, Isle of Man-based consultancy Sorcery has partnered with Norcliffe Capital in a bid to assist Wi-Fi Securities in raising £8.4m vita the Government’s Enterprise Investment Scheme to enhance the testing process and bring the product to market.
Both Sorcery, which also has an office in Knowsley, and Norcliffe have joined forces to come up with a model designed to help firms with valuable intellectual property raise capital to bring their products to market.
While start-ups are often able to access initial seed funding, this can quickly run out, and securing capital for later stage development can be more of a challenge.
Sorcery co-founder, Cliff Kirkby, is himself a successful entrepreneur who has a track record of establishing design engineering and medtech businesses. He has taken on the role of chief executive at Wi-Fi Securities.
He explained: “This problem with raising development capital is very much a British one. Put simply, we don’t like asking for money. So what happens is an entrepreneur will raise capital for one stage but that will run out more quickly than they thought it would because of unforeseen costs.
“So then it comes to raising money for the next stage of R&D they might need, say, £1m. But because they don’t like asking for money they may decide to just ask for half a million. Then they stop doing what they do best, which is developing their product, and they go into survival mode and end up delaying key stages of development.
“What we come in and do is put a clear plan in place that aims to give them the time and space to get on with the main job of getting the product right.”
Mr Kirkby added there would be further trials of SpriteGuard later in the year which will help to push its development on significantly, aiming for full commercialisation in around 18 months.
“There isn’t any other Wi-Fi security product like SpriteGuard. It is unique in the way it protects your customers from fake open access Wi-Fi accounts pretending to be your own (evil twin) and so protects your brand and reputation. If you provide guest wi-fi, then you need SpriteGuard,” he said.
Patricia Reynolds, director at Norcliffe Capital, added: “It’s fitting that our first project with Sorcery is a business based at Liverpool Science Park, in the heart of Liverpool’s Knowledge Quarter.
“We see the synergy between the Isle of Man, Liverpool and the wider North West as being fundamental to our business plan – finding and helping science and tech businesses to grow and succeed.”