18 Mar 10. Kromek, a developer of digital colour and 3D X-ray imaging technology that makes scanning products for the aviation and border security markets, has raised £12.3m in its latest fund raising. The backing, predominantly from private investors, brings to £19m ($29m) the total raised by Kromek, formerly known as Durham Scientific Crystals, since it was spun out of Durham University’s physics department in 2004. Each of its four rounds of fund-raising has been supported by Amphion Innovations, a medical and technology investor, which initially staked £1m in 2005. It now holds a 17 per cent stake in Kromek; the founders’ group has a 25 per cent stake in the business, now valued at £52m. The Sedgefield-based company has developed a method of producing single crystals of cadmium telluride for use as detectors of X-rays and gamma rays. Arnab Basu, chief executive, won the 2009 Young Entrepreneur of the Year award from Ernst and Young. “We are seeing a change in the general investor attitude in the past few months but it’s still tough out there,” he said. One challenge for private companies raising money, he said, is the potential attraction for investors of undervalued public companies.
Kromek’s scanning technology has applications in security, medical, industrial inspection and defence markets. Its bottle scanner is designed to detect liquid-based explosives and narcotics dissolved in alcohol, offering the prospect of access to anti-terrorist global aviation markets. However, Mr Basu said that while the UK government has, over the past decade, done much to support early stage innovation, the slow pace of regulatory change and delays in the process are difficult for companies bearing the cost of bringing new products to market. “What hurts is the uncertainty,” he said. EU airports must now ensure liquid scanning facilities are in place in transit areas by April 2011, with the ban lifted and replaced by screening by April 2013. (Source: FT.com)
17 Mar 10. The US government will share classified information with the private sector operators of “critical infrastructure” under the terms of a proposed cybersecurity bill in Congress that has bipartisan support. The bill was unveiled by two senators amid heightened concern in Washington that the US is ill equipped to deal with the growing threat of cybercrime and state-sponsored “intrusions” into US government and communications networks. If passed, the legislation would enhance collaboration between US intelligence agencies and the private sector. First, it would require the White House to designate certain technology systems as critical if their disruption threatened strategic national interests. If intelligence officials received information about a forthcoming attack targeting a specific company or critical part of the US infrastructure, a top-level private sector official with security clearance would be provided with “enough” information to defend or mitigate the attack, a congressional aide said. The threat to critical infrastructure has become a flashpoint in the broadening debate about overall cybersecurity issues. More than 85 per cent of infrastructure that is deemed to be critical is owned or operated by the private sector.
Congressional witnesses have testified that the large segments of the US electrical power grid, already subjected to espionage efforts, could be rendered inoperable through documented vulnerabilities in equipment that is increasingly connected to outside communications networks.
As with the internet and telecommunications infrastructure, a stumbling block has been the private ownership of the majority of potential targets. Though security experts have for years called for greater “public-private” partnership to deal with potential cybersecurity threats, there has been little tangible progress on the security front.
Richard Schaeffer, the National Security Agency’s point man for protecting private assets, indicated on Wednesday that some progr