Germany-based collaborative data engineering platform Apheris has lured in €8.7 million of seed funds led by London-headquartered VC Octopus Ventures and backed by former Google CFO Patrick Pichette.
The funds constitute an extension to Apheris's original €2.5 million seed round and also included LocalGlobe, Dig Ventures, Another.VC and Heal Capital, as well as two further individual investors: Berthold von Freyberg (usually invests as co-owner of VC firm Target Partners) and Mirko Novakovic (who founded IBM acquiree Instana).
Apheris is working on a bespoke platform for allowing organisations to safely work together on data tasks using data techniques like federated machine learning, differential privacy and secure multi-party computation.
Founded by Berlin-based duo Robin Rohm and Michael Hoh three years ago, Apheris aims to tackle data siloes that prevent some businesses and other organisations from using data to unlock commercial value, particularly for artificial intelligence that uses data to learn how to execute business tasks.
Apheris's aim is to allow data to be collaborated on by separate organisations securely, while keeping the data physically within the original owner's networking environment, helping AI train on more datasets in a "technically and commercially viable way".
More complete datasets will be pivotal as tech engineers strive to design the next wave of machine learning algorithms, expected to offer solutions for global concerns ranging from curing intractable diseases to taking on climate change.
Among the early clients using the Apheris technology are car maker BMW, chemicals firm BASF and JLABS - an innovation arm of health products firm Johnson & Johnson.
Connor Scanlan, investment manager, Octopus Ventures, said: "The Apheris team is empowering organizations to solve the critical problem of ensuring that data privacy is protected while still enabling them to benefit from the endless positive potential of data collaboration. In doing so they are unlocking huge benefits across industries.
"We believe in investing in the people and ideas that are changing the world, working with founders and teams building businesses with positive impact at their core.
"In Apheris we see these values in everything they do and we look forward to seeing them go from strength to strength."