Firms urged to apply for groundbreaking cyber startup scheme

Picture: GCHQ/Crown Copyright

An initiative bringing together GCHQ and industry expertise to develop new cyber security technology is to be extended. Cyber security entrepreneurs and start-ups are being invited to apply to join the second programme in the GCHQ Cyber Accelerator which will be extended from three to nine months.

The programme will give start-ups more time with staff from across GCHQ, including the National Cyber Security Centre, enabling them to expand their capability, improve their ideas, and devise cutting-edge products. It will be delivered by Wayra UK, part of Telefónica, and the selected startups will receive benefits to help them scale all aspects of their businesses, including office space, mentoring and contact with an extensive investor network.

It will specifically help new firms turn their ideas into commercial products and services and contribute to the UK cyber security sector which grew from £17.6bn in 2014 to almost £22bn in 2015. The programme is a collaboration between the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), GCHQ, the NCSC, and Wayra UK.

The UK Government’s digital minister Matt Hancock said: “We are working hard to make Britain the best place to start and grow a digital business and the safest place to be online. The GCHQ Cyber Accelerator is a vital part of this work and has already helped some of the most innovative cyber security startups develop cutting-edge new products and services. I’m pleased to announce the programme is being extended and encourage the nation’s talented entrepreneurs to apply.”

The accelerator is part of the Cheltenham Innovation Centre and a commitment in the Government’s five-year, £1.9bn National Cyber Security Strategy which aims to defend the UK in cyberspace, deter adversaries and develop the UK’s cyber security skills and capabilities. DCMS is also planning to launch a second innovation centre – in London – at the end of the year. Earlier this year, seven start-ups graduated from the accelerator’s first programme and to date they have collectively raised more than £2.7m in investment, including follow-on contracts with major companies such as Cisco. The firms which took part were CounterCraft, CyberOwl, CyberSmart, Elemendar, Spherical Defence, StatusToday and Verimuchme.