Google rival Better Internet Search is an ad-free search engine that also pledges to preserve user privacy.
The venture is said to have attracted support from a coalition of British and European companies, committed to advancing a next-generation internet that is “more tailored to the needs of users rather than a small number of tech giants”.
A pre-seed funding round has secured investors including Scotcoin, a community interest company (CIC) that has established a cryptocurrency “dedicated to positive change and a fairer Scotland”.
Danish-led Partisia Blockchain is providing the new search engine with blockchain technology.
Funders include a small group of the venture’s early users from North America and Europe, while Glasgow law firm Bellwether Green represented the company in the investment transactions.
The search engine claims that its ad-free, subscription-free service consumes 35 per cent less energy because it is not employing ad servers or processing sponsored content.
Gordon Povey, chief executive of Better Internet Search, said: “We believe our type of search engine is better for the planet.
“By eliminating advertising, we have drastically reduced the amount of processing, data storage and communications required, we speed up the delivery of results and don’t clog your screen, processor, broadband and wi-fi with ad content.
“We eliminate 30-40 per cent of processing representing a significant saving in energy. Many of our users want to be more sustainable consumers so we’re also developing technology that is able to rank products found by our search engine according to sustainability factors.”
Temple Melville, managing director of the Scotcoin Project CIC, said: “We are delighted to announce our strategic involvement with Better Internet Search.
“Culturally, we see great similarities between the companies and Scotcoin has invested in Better Internet Search - confirming our enthusiasm for, and belief in, their online vision. We look forward to working with them on the charities and enterprises that this collaboration is going to support.”
Kurt Nielsen, co-founder and president of Partisia Blockchain, added: “For decades now the internet has operated in the same way, while, in the meantime, the world it serves has changed dramatically.
“Privacy is now non-negotiable and demanded from users, enterprises, and governments alike.
“Our collaboration with Better Internet Search will ensure that privacy is built-in at the new search engine’s core, meaning users no longer need to worry about the risks and fears of sharing their personal data when using the internet.”
The ad-free search engine generates revenue when users are in “shopping mode” since online sales generated from shopping searches provide commission fees.
Povey said that ad-based models try to make users want a specific thing whereas the alternative brokerage model uses search to find the thing you actually want.
For instance, instead of sending people adverts while they are searching around, the search engine waits until they have chosen to shop and receives commission only once a purchase has been made.
Regulators are also starting to take action to improve competition, Better Internet Search noted.