Blockchain Founders Group & Blockrocket back asvin GmbH to roll out DLT-based secure software supply chain of IoT devices

By: Benjamin Horvath and Wolfgang Männel

We are excited to announce that we have recently joined our colleagues from BESTO, Minol-ZENNER, CV VC, CoinIX, and a number of other investors for the seed financing round of asvin GmbH, based in Stuttgart, Germany.

Why we invested in asvin

Founded in 2018, asvin addresses the urgent and critical need for more security in the software management of Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices driven by increasing hacker attacks and pending legislation requiring manufacturers to put in place a safe system by design.

This is especially relevant for regulated industries such as the mobility, aerospace, and industrial segment. Today, a modern car may integrate over 200 IoT devices, each with its own operating software and potential for being hacked.

Like a full-fledged computer, IoT devices are not hard-wired but require software to run. This software is typically called “firmware”, implying that it doesn’t change. However, the firmware needs to be updated, just like a normal operating system needs regular updates for security patches or feature enhancements.

IoT is a crucial part of the information architecture because its sensors are not only the “eyes and ears” of a system, but also physically execute commands like closing safety doors, turning on alarm systems, or hitting the brake of an automobile.

asvin has built a suite of software tools based on Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) for managing the secure software supply chain of IoT devices.

DLT is often also described as “Blockchain” technology, which provides features like immutability and robustness through system decentralization.

asvin ensures with a secure technical architecture the tracking and checking of device software and the provision of a constant Software-Bill-of-Materials for regulated assets. This means that critical software updates can be rolled out quickly and safely and are auditable at any time.

The company was founded by the German serial entrepreneurs Mirko Ross and Sven Rahlfs. Since 2014 they have been working on Industry 4.0, IoT, and Cloud-based applications. Mirko has been a member of the Expert Group on Internet Security of Things of the European Cyber Security Agency ENISA and advises the EU Commission. He is also active in international committees and research projects of cyber security and Blockchain technologies.

When we met the management team, we were intrigued by their vision of using innovative Distributed Ledger technology to bring safety and structure to the IoT software management, which is often termed as a “huge mess and disaster waiting to happen”.

Why we believe DLT-based IoT software management to become a huge topic

One does not need to watch Hollywood movies like “I, Robot” to understand the magnitude of insecure IoT devices. Attacks on nuclear installations, self-driving cars, or power grids offer just a glimpse of what the future may hold if the software of IoT devices isn’t made as robust and secure as possible.

However, security frequently remains an afterthought to the already-taxing implementation of simple management capabilities at scale, evident with large-scale IoT hacking emerging as a vogue topic at top IT security conferences.

One of the biggest threats is the third-party updating of IoT devices with malicious intent. This means that a middleman succeeds in deploying modified software onto an IoT device resulting in deactivated functionalities or erroneous sensor reads.

Legislators worldwide have become aware of this increased cybersecurity threat. As a result, they have demanded action from the manufacturers through various initiatives like the EU Cybersecurity Act, the Radio Equipment Directive, or the White House Executive Order on Improving Nation’s Cybersecurity.

The most exciting markets for asvin are those, that are regulated and complex. This means mobility (esp. automotive), aerospace, logistics, smart infrastructure, and Industry 4.0.

What these industries have in common is, that they 1) involve many parties, 2) need to work together seamlessly, 3) require a shared and reliable data platform, 4) have high security and safety standards, 5) need to be fully auditable for insurance and safety issues, and 6) are undergoing fundamental technological changes.

asvin is well-positioned in the markets mentioned above given past and present pilot installations and their carefully assembled advisory board from the mobility, aerospace, and industrial segment.

Prominent members include the former CEO of CONTINENTAL AG Dr. Elmar Degenhart, the former CEO of DAIMLER Financial Service AG Dr. Klaus Entenmann, and Christian Senger, responsible for Autonomous Driving at Volkswagen AG Commercial Vehicles.

We are delighted to partner with our fellow investors, many of them rooted in the strong German engineering culture, for asvin’s seed financing round.

About asvin

asvin provides a distributed ledger-based solution to track and trace the integrity and provenance of software supply chains. From development towards continuous integration, manufacturers and IoT operators can minimize and control cyber security risks of the IoT architecture. The company has been awarded 2021 as the best Cybersecurity Startup in Germany by it-sa.

Contact: Mirko Ross, CEO, m.ross@asvin.io

About Blockrocket

Blockrocket is an investor in early-stage blockchain startups. We are based in Germany but invest in equity deals globally — with ticket sizes ranging from €100–500k. Together with our venture capital partner, the BFG Blockchain Founders Group AG, we specialize in pre-product-market fit business models in the blockchain space.

Want to apply for our funding or find out more about us? Then please visit our website or reach out directly to us.

Contact: Benjamin Horvath, Managing Director, benjamin.horvath@blockrocket.io

About Blockchain Founders Group

BFG Blockchain Founders Group is a company builder and early-stage venture capital investor. Our team comprises academic and regulatory drivers of the blockchain economy, serial entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists. We love to work with outstanding entrepreneurial talents and bring to bear the full support of our network to make them succeed.

Visit our website or reach out directly to us.

Contact: Wolfgang Männel, Senior Partner, wm@blockchain-founders.io

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