Boston cybersecurity teams win a spot in Highland Capital’s pilot accelerator


Earlier this year, Highland Capital announced that in addition to hosting its competitive [email protected] accelerator in San Francisco this summer, it would also partner with a pair of MIT PhD students to launch a pilot accelerator in its Cambridge office specializing in cybersecurity startups. The program, Cybersecurity Factory, is being organized by Jean Yang and Frank Wang, and has just announced the two winning teams, both of which are Boston-based companies working on cloud encryption technology.

Part of the interest in creating Cybersecurity Factory was to help founders overcome the myriad challenges they often face as they try to get cybersecurity companies off the ground — from making cybersecurity interesting to investors to proving that their actually programs work.

In a testament to that challenge, neither team had formed a company before the announcement of the program, Yang said. “I think we’re creating potential companies where companies didn’t exist before.” Highland Capital will provide $20,000 to each team.

Aikicrypt, developed by Sergey Gorbunov, who recently defended his PhD at MIT, and Alexey Gribov, a student at Moscow State University, will seek ways to encrypt data that’s been stored in the cloud. Their plan is to build a tool that lets people feel safer about storing their content in places like Google Drive and Dropbox, said Gorbunov, and allow people and companies to search encrypted data sets without losing the security features.

The other participating team will be Obivilock, which is working to provide encryption technology not just to the data, but the metadata that is created every time you save something to the cloud — the details like where you were when you saved that file or photo to the cloud. Chris Fletcher and Ling Ren, both graduate students at MIT, will be working on their project for the eight-week boot camp this summer.

These two teams aren’t the only Boston-based startups that will be at Highland this summer. Three of the five teams selected for the firm’s West Coast program also have local ties: JustiServ from Harvard hosts a website where people can find and buy legal advice, micro-loan provider TightSpot hails from Boston College, and ChaseIQ, founded by Harvard Business School, Carnegie Mellon University, and Yale University grads, plans to help e-commerce sites make the most of their platforms.

Image via Flickr user Andrew Hart

Janelle Nanos can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @janellenanos.
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