University of Notre Dame startup SIMBA Chain raises $25 million in Series A funding

Author: Nicholas Swisher

SIMBA Chain, whose funding round is one of the largest Series A rounds in Indiana history, has roots in Notre Dame’s Center for Research Computing

SIMBA Chain, a blockchain technology company based on technology licensed from the University of Notre Dame, today announced it has closed a $25 million Series A round of funding. Valley Capital Partners led the round, with participation from the Notre Dame Pit Road Fund, Elevate Ventures, Stanford Law School and individuals affiliated with KKR, Lightspeed Venture Partners and New Enterprise Associates. Since its launch out of Notre Dame’s IDEA Center in 2018, SIMBA Chain has raised more than $27 million in funding.

SIMBA Chain is now one of only two Indiana startup companies to successfully close a Series A round of $25 million or more. Indianapolis-based software company Kerauno closed its $25 million Series A in March 2019. 

“Completing a Series A of this magnitude and with robust support from Silicon Valley investors is truly validating for SIMBA Chain and the IDEA Center,” said Bryan Ritchie, vice president and the Cathy and John Martin Associate Provost for Innovation at Notre Dame. “The world is starting to realize that very interesting companies are coming out of Notre Dame and the Midwest. We believe SIMBA Chain will be the first of many new exciting ventures from Notre Dame to scale in this way.”

SIMBA Chain offers blockchain products that remove the often complex programming required to implement blockchain, making blockchain integrations simpler. The technology that is the foundation of the company was initially developed by Ian Taylor, computational scientist at Notre Dame’s Center for Research Computing and research professor of computer science and engineering; Jarek Nabrzyski, director the Center for Research Computing and concurrent professor of computer science and engineering; and several research software engineers from the center.

Over the last 18 months, SIMBA Chain has achieved significant milestones that include securing paid programs with the U.S. Department of Defense to develop blockchain-based solutions critical to U.S. national security; signing contracts with more than 20 institutions of higher learning in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia to use the platform in their schools of business and law; and attracting more than 6,000 users to its platform. SIMBA Chain has also grown revenue by 360 percent and will soon announce the development of a digital marketplace using non-fungible tokens for a major university.

Both the IDEA Center and the Center for Research Computing have continued to play instrumental roles in SIMBA Chain’s fundraising and commercialization process. The Notre Dame Pit Road Fund was a seed round investor and also participated in the Series A round. Notre Dame also made early introductions to Silicon Valley investors, and Ritchie advised SIMBA Chain on the timing of the Series A round and also “shopped the pitch deck” to potential investors.

SIMBA Chain has also continued its relationship with the Center for Research Computing. The company and the center have secured multiple Phase I and Phase II Small Business Innovation Research awards totaling $3.4 million from the U.S. Department of Defense. These government contracts along with progress made within the private and university sectors fueled interest in SIMBA Chain.

Taylor, who as a result of his work with SIMBA Chain has become a globally recognized blockchain expert, said SIMBA Chain plans to use the funds from the Series A to continue to scale the company’s technology and address emerging opportunities at the enterprise level, specifically within the arena of non-fungible tokens. “We expect companies and universities will use SIMBA Chain’s software to connect to Web3 and blockchains to manage, monetize and realize the full financial value of digital and physical assets as well as unlock business and revenue models that don’t exist today,” he said.

He also added the company will be hiring more front- and back-end developers and project managers, which may translate into careers for Notre Dame graduates. Altogether, the company plans to hire close to 100 people over the next two years, 30 of whom will be hired within the next few months.

And that, said Nabrzyski, is a win not only for SIMBA Chain, Notre Dame and the Center for Research Computing, but also for the South Bend-Elkhart region and for Indiana, which is building a reputation as a national tech center.

“Notre Dame’s collaboration with SIMBA Chain is one of mutually beneficial harmony,” Nabrzyski said. “Their growing reputation as a blockchain leader reflects back on the Center for Research Computing, which has enabled us to attract more funding for research and support our faculty and students.”  

About SIMBA Chain Inc.:

SIMBA Chain’s cloud-based enterprise platform enables academia, industry and governments to quickly develop and deploy Web 3.0 decentralized applications (dApps) across many blockchain platforms. SIMBA Chain was established in 2017 through a DARPA grant awarded to the University of Notre Dame and ITAMCO. SIMBA Chain is the recipient of TechPoint’s 2019 Mira Award for New Product of the Year and 1st Source Bank’s 2019 Commercialization Award. The SIMBA Chain platform supports Avalanche, Ethereum, Consensys Quorum, Binance Smart Chain, RSK, Stellar, Hyperledger and other blockchain protocols. To learn more about SIMBA Chain, visit simbachain.com.

About the Center for Research Computing:

The Center for Research Computing at the University of Notre Dame is an innovative and multidisciplinary research community that supports collaboration through advanced computation, data analysis and other digital research tools. Facilitating discoveries in science, engineering, the arts, the humanities and the social sciences, the center is composed of three groups: high-performance computing, computational science and cyberinfrastructure development, including research software development. To learn more about the center, visit crc.nd.edu.

About the IDEA Center:

Standing for Innovation, De-Risking and Enterprise Acceleration, the IDEA Center is the fundamental resource for all commercialization and entrepreneurial activities at the University of Notre Dame. It provides the necessary space, services and expertise for idea development, commercialization, business formation, prototyping, entrepreneurial education and student entrepreneurial efforts. It is designed to bring the best Notre Dame faculty, staff and student ideas and innovations to market. To learn more about the center, visit ideacenter.nd.edu.

Originally published by Nicholas Swisher at ideacenter.nd.edu on September 03, 2021.