Home Finance & Investments Ethical data pioneer raises £1.5m to prepare for cookie-free future

Ethical data pioneer raises £1.5m to prepare for cookie-free future

Pictured from left to right are Ian Wilson and Thea Tebble of Mercia and CitizenMe founder StJohn Deakins

A company that provides an ethical alternative to the ad tracking techniques used by tech giants such as Facebook and Google has raised a £1.5m investment to build its global presence and expand its team of data scientists in Newcastle.

CitizenMe has secured funding from the North East Venture Fund (NEVF), supported by the European Regional Development Fund and managed by Mercia, alongside funds from 1818 Capital and private investors.

The platform was developed in response to concerns over current practices, where consumers’ data is collected via apps or website cookies and may be used by multiple companies for marketing purposes.

Using CitizenMe’s technology, customers agree to share their data in exchange for payment or other incentives. However the data is securely held on individuals’ smartphones and companies are not able to access their personal details directly.

CitizenMe is believed to be the only fully-functional platform of its type and has already completed more than 7.5 million data exchanges. The platform was launched in 2018 by StJohn Deakins, who has 30 years’ experience in technology firms.

The company, which is based in London, has recently opened an office in Newcastle to enable it to tap into the city’s digital talent and build a team of data scientists. It has already appointed four staff members and expects to create around six new jobs in the city in the coming year. The funding will also enable it to further develop its AI capabilities, and grow its presence in the US market.

As part of the investment Paul Zanker, an experienced banker who is Chief Transformation Officer with Macquarie Bank, has been appointed as Chair.

StJohn Deakins, CitizenMe founder, says: “CitizenMe enables people and brands to co-create better digital products and services. We are delighted that Mercia and 1818 share our belief in a sustainable digital future and our lead in the new Zero Data category.”

Thea Tebble of Mercia says: “Growing concern about the use of personal data is creating demand for a new type of customer data technology. CitizenME offers a solution, enabling consumers to retain ownership of their personal data and companies to access it in an ethical way. The company is already ahead of the field and has huge potential for growth.”

Marc Cohen, Partner with 1818 Venture Capital, adds: “Data privacy is of ever-increasing importance to consumers and regulators. Companies want and need to be able to personalise while respecting those desires. CitizenMe’s Zero Party Data solution elegantly enables all those needs to be met.” – Marc Cohen, Partner, 1818 Venture Capital

Luke Philpott from Square One Law provided legal advice to Mercia on the deal, while Baker Botts represented CitizenMe.