We have been awarded €2 million from the EU to further develop the Proton ecosystem

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We are happy to announce that the European Commission has awarded €2 million to Proton Technologies AG, the parent company of ProtonMail and ProtonVPN, to develop a suite of encrypted services.

Proton Technologies has always been engaged in research as a legacy of our scientific past. Whether it’s designing open source cryptographic libraries, modernizing existing standards, or developing new standards, research and development has always comprised a large fraction of our expenditures. We are glad to announce that the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 program, which has distributed nearly €80 billion across Europe to encourage scientific research and technological innovation, has recognized our contributions to the European economy and will be granting us €2 million to further our mission.

Switzerland, despite being outside of the EU, qualifies for Horizon 2020 funding because of bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU. The EU has always represented an integral part of our community, accounting for approximately 40% of ProtonMail users. It is also a core part of who we are: outside of our headquarters in Switzerland, 20% of our workforce is based in our offices in Czech Republic and Lithuania, and EU citizens collectively represent approximately half of our workforce.

Horizon 2020 in many ways aligns with our vision. First, Horizon 2020 funding comes in the form of grants, and because of that, they do not increase our debt, nor does it give the EU any shares or voting control in Proton Technologies. Control of the company therefore remains with our team, allowing us to continue putting the priorities of the community first.

This grant also does not create any commitments on our part, other than using the funding for the purposes that we have outlined in our proposal to the European Commission. It does not alter our Swiss jurisdiction, nor can it compel us to do anything that would compromise the security of our product and privacy of our users in any way.

Second, this funding aligns the EU with our long-term success. The EU has now clearly signaled its support for privacy rights and is betting on Proton Technologies to deliver a European answer to the data mining monopolies of US tech giants like Google. In summary, we have not just gained a meaningful amount of funding, but also a powerful ally in the tough battles to come.

The Horizon 2020 selection process was rigorous. For over a year, the European Commission thoroughly scrutinized our team, our technology, our financials, and our main stakeholders during multiple rounds of evaluation, including a visit to Brussels to present Proton Technologies to European Commission officials. In this process, the Commission also sought input from the people who use our software, including some of the millions of individual EU citizens who use ProtonMail, and also customers of our business secure email solutions.

We are glad that the European Commission has recognized our technical excellence, transparent and ethical business model, and the importance of our mission. At a time when many governments are looking to roll back privacy protections, sometimes with the collusion of massive tech giants, we are heartened that the EU is following through on the commitment to privacy set out by the GDPR, and is now investing real money into privacy tech for the first time.

The European Commission has specific requirements for the use of funds, and this funding is mostly earmarked for building technologies for ProtonDrive, as the EU would like to see an expansion of the Proton product offerings to enhance our global competitiveness. While €2 million may not look like much in the big scheme of what we are trying to accomplish, every bit helps. This funding will without a doubt accelerate our ProtonDrive efforts and help us bring more value to the existing Proton community.

We also believe this is the right choice for Europe. Today, the tech industry is dominated by a small number of US tech giants, who exercise near monopoly power over the data of European citizens, controlling what we see online and how we get online, with a complete disregard for privacy. A European alternative that puts privacy first is not only a win for Europe, but of great benefit to the world.

Disrupting any industry and taking on gigantic competitors is always a challenge. That’s why having the support of the European Commission in this endeavor is a big win for the Proton community. We now have the chance to build a different and better Internet, one that puts user rights first, and one that seeks to improve the lives of all, and not just the few.

Best Regards,

The ProtonMail Team

You can get a free secure email account from ProtonMail here.

We also provide a free VPN service to protect your privacy.

ProtonMail and ProtonVPN are funded by community contributions. If you would like to support our development efforts, you can upgrade to a paid plan or donate. Thank you for your support.

About the Author

Andy Yen

Andy is a founder of ProtonMail. He is a long time advocate of privacy rights and has spoken at TED, SXSW, and the Asian Investigative Journalism Conference about online privacy issues. Previously, Andy was a research scientist at CERN and has a PhD in Particle Physics from Harvard University. You can watch his TED talk online to learn more about ProtonMail's mission.

 

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13 comments on “We have been awarded €2 million from the EU to further develop the Proton ecosystem

  • I’m very happy to find Protonmail, and sadly not early enough. Been struggling over the years with alternative e-mail providers, and tested some of the dead heroes online. but by far Protonmail brings the top features in privacy protection.

    Thanks for that.

    Reply
  • Congratz! Glad to see that apart from destroying our right to privacy with imposing upload filters on us, the EU is also doing something to uphold it.

    Reply
  • Are there any estimates when ProtonDrive could launch? I’m looking for secure cloud storage and this might be the thing…

    Reply
    • ProtonDrive is currently on our roadmap. It’s a complex project so we cannot give a fixed release date. Thank you for your patience.

      Reply
  • I’m a happy paying user of both your current products and I truly feel you have built a reputation for yourselves in the security and privacy world, so for me this is excellent news.

    But please do bear in mind that there are no shortage of good and well established cloud storage providers and I think that breaking into this area will not be an easy task, so I do hope you’ll focus on what you best and come up with good privacy and security focused product (that provides advanced file sharing capabilities! Something that is shockingly lacking in the market) instead of going for the easy route of offering hughes amounts of space and only having decent security.. which is what most companies seem to do. I truly believe that your security and privacy 1st mindset is what sets you apart and that will be your road to success, so please do keep it up!

    Reply
  • Thank you for your efforts. What you do is appreciated very much and I hope the EU award is one of many that promotes Proton’s place in the global market place.

    Reply