Five minutes with Ramy Shelbaya, CEO of Quantum Dice

We spoke to Ramy Shelbaya, CEO and Co-Founder of Quantum Dice, a fast-growing tech company that has joined our Oxford Centre for Innovation.

“Quantum Dice’s pioneering technology leverages the unique features of quantum mechanics to create secure random numbers”, says Ramy. “This has huge potential for encryption and cybersecurity as we now use random numbers literally every day, in fact nearly every hour, of our lives to secure our communications online, our data, our phones and our computers.”

Cybersecurity is becoming one of the critical priorities for governments and the private sector. In an increasingly digitised world, it is estimated that we will be connected through 75.4 billion devices by 2025. One of the critical components of any encryption system is the random number generator or RNG. That’s where Quantum Dice come in.

The core of Quantum Dice’s quantum random number generator or QRNG technology works like this. The particles or photons within an optical circuit interact with a particular component in a totally random way – meaning you can’t predict what these particles are going to do in the process. It is this randomness that creates the random numbers. Simple really. “There are other companies that provide RNG” says Ramy, “but it is incredibly difficult to make sure that the “randomness” comes from the quantum optics, not the “noise” or “classical” randomness, which degrades the quality of the output. Our technology ensures that we use quantum randomness, not classical, so that numbers generated are 100% secure. This is our USP.”

Ramy and his team hope that their advanced QRNG will have a wider and wider impact. As they’re in the early stages of development, Quantum Dice’s technology is currently only suited for applications where security is key but cost and size aren’t such a huge issue, such as telecommunication networks or servers. As their technology gets more advanced, more efficient and reduces in size and price, they want to address the security needs of individual consumers.

Quantum Dice’s QRNG technology and associated patent came out of academic research developed by the University of Oxford’s Department of Physics – more specifically the Quantum Optics research group, headed by Professor Ian Walmsley. In 2019, Oxford Sciences Enterprises, Oxford University Innovation and the Oxford Foundry organised the first Student Entrepreneurship (StEP) Ignite Programme and ran a competition to develop patents developed by the University. Recognising the potential value of the QRNG research, Ramy lead a team that developed a business proposition around the associated patent. They won and Quantum Dice was born.

As winners of the competition, the team was awarded finance from OUI and OSE to kick start the project, a licence to develop the technology as a University spin out, and programme support for a month. Quantum Dice was incorporated in April 2020, right at the beginning of the first lockdown, by Ramy Shelbaya, George Dunlop, Marko Mayr, Zhanet Zaharive and Wenmio Yu – all under 32 and fresh out of the University. In fact, for some members of the team, this is their first job!

Their QRNG technology has gained the confidence of investors and in October 2021 the team raised £1 million through a venture capital consortium led by venture capital fund Elaia with additional investment from Midven and IP Group. And, a further £1 million grant funding was secured, mainly from the Quantum Investment Accelerator run by IP Group plc. The finance is to develop the world’s first compact and self-certifying quantum random number generator.

“The challenge now”, says Ramy, “is to create the prototype and ensure it is small, cheap and easy to manufacture so that it can be fitted in any consumer device.”

Quantum Dice is on a roll. It’s great to have you as part of our innovation community.

For more information on Quantum Dice, see here

To find out more about our innovation centre, follow the links for the Wood Centre for Innovation and its sister centre, the Oxford Centre for Innovation.