A Lantzville-based technology start-up has won the 2020 New Ventures B.C. Competition.
Innovate B.C., which presented the award Nov. 24, announced aDolus Technology as the competition’s first-place winner from a field of 240 applicants.
“I feel like I jumped on the back of a tiger … and I’m hanging on for dear life,” said Eric Byres, aDolus Technology chief executive officer. “It’s sort of life in this company and it’s sort of life in the cyber-security world and then the win is just like now I’m wearing spurs on the back of a tiger.”
Byres is an industrial control engineer who specializes in industrial control systems and industrial Internet of Things cyber-security. Byres invented the Tofino Security technology, which, according to the aDolus website, is the most widely deployed industrial control-specific firewall in the world and is licensed by companies such as Honeywell, Schneider Electric and Caterpillar.
A short list of Byres’s accomplishments include founding the B.C. Institute of Technology critical infrastructure security centre and testifying before the U.S. Congress on the security of industrial control systems in national critical infrastructures.
“This is the third company we’ve launched in Lantzville,” Byres said. “The other two have been very successful and got sold off to U.S. companies and, so, a lot of this team are guys from those startups as well, all to do with industrial cyber security … the security of computers that make things or keep the lights on. That’s our focus.”
Byers’s previous companies were Byres Security, which developed security modelling tools. It was started in Vancouver and was bought by a company in Pennsylvania. World Tech, which was bought by General Electric, and Tofino Security, which was purchased by another U.S. company, were launched from Lantzville.
Byres’s current company aDolus, founded in early 2018, specializes in detecting fake software or malicious software introduced into control processes and derives its name from Greek mythology: Dolus, the Greek demigod of deception, with an ‘a’ indicating negation.
“Dolus … was famous for making fake statues of the goddesses that were so realistic you thought it was the real goddess. What we started out trying to do was detect fakes, fake software and other counterfeit software, particularly malicious counterfeit software,” Byres said. “Anything that’s mission critical and involves smart devices. Now we’ve really focused on the industrial sector: energy, power generation, offshore gas platforms, stuff like that.”
Byres said aDolus could expand its focus to include medical scanning devices, especially those used in research into development of a COVID-19 vaccine.
“There’s been some really nasty stuff going on during COVID about fake software being loaded into medical imaging devices … foreign nation state-driven and the idea is that you can hijack these imaging machines … One of the big pressures is intellectual property theft because it’s just downright easier to steal intellectual information from labs, test environments and stuff like that,” he said. “The other reason is the capability to disrupt systems, either for cash or political reasons.”
The 2020 New Ventures B.C. Competition cash prizes won by aDolus included the $115,000 Innovate B.C. first-place prize package and Innovate B.C. Top Regional Startup, a $20,000 prize.
Innovate B.C. is a Crown agency created to strengthen entrepreneurship, increase company growth and support job creation, and funds and delivers programs that support growth of the B.C. economy.
“I didn’t think we’d get the big prize,” Byres said. “I was quite confident we’d get the regional prize, but I thought a Vancouver company would win the top prize.”
Byres said the prize money will be used to hire more development staff.