International Trust Machines Corporation (ITM) announced this week that it has raised a Pre-Series A round of funding from MediaTek. It’s the semiconductor giant’s first ever effort to invest in a blockchain startup, though for an undisclosed sum.
With the new capital, ITM plans to ramp up the development and deployment of its new-generation chipset, which serves to solve the scalability problem plaguing public ledgers. MediaTek will not be involved in the process of technical development.
Founded just last year, the startup has been widely recognized for its innovation, awarded the first runner-up prize at Qualcomm “Innovate in Taiwan” Challenge 2019 (QITC 2019), the third prize at the 2019 Meet Taipei Demo Show, and nominated for the Global Mobile Awards at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2020.
The QITC 2019 is the first effort for the multinational semiconductor company to identify and nurture innovations from small and medium-sized businesses in Taiwan.
The startup's collaborations with international companies are also underway, including with the project with Qualcomm and Microsoft to develop an edge agent for chipsets certified for IoT operating system Azure Sphere.
ITM’s co-founder & CEO Julian Chen said the company focuses on the integration of blockchain and IoT technologies. “Taiwan has always been strong at hardware development, and blockchain makes better integration of hardware and software possible.”
To be precise, the company’s core technology allows massive amount of data from IoT devices to be recorded in blockchains in a cost-effective way. With its cryptographic algorithm, a package of one million transactions from an IoT device will be given a fingerprint to be recorded in a public ledger; it’s in essence a short string of digits, 32 bytes in size. Within such framework, it’s not necessary to record all the original data, which involves a lot of computational calculations. One may simply rely on the fingerprint to verify if the data are trustworthy.
ITM also has a proprietary security protocol. It allows terminals to check the fingerprint that is sent after the data are received in the cloud and thereby ensures they’re not tampered with in the process of transmission.
What's more, its software development kit (SDK), 100 kilobytes in size, can be easily embedded into low end microcontrollers, paving the way for the era of “blockchain of things,” as the startup envisions.