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UK government partners with tech startups on cyber security

Applications are open to cyber security startups for the first of two cyber innovation centres to receive £50m over five years, as part of the government’s £1.9m National Cyber Security Programme

The UK government has announced a “ground-breaking” partnership with tech startups to develop cutting-edge, world-leading cyber security technology.

Wayra UK, part of Telefónica Open Future, will run a new cyber accelerator facility with the aim of helping UK startups take the lead in producing the next generation of cyber security systems.

The accelerator programme is a first for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and GCHQ, the UK’s signals intelligence and cyber security agency.

It will see startups gaining access to GCHQ’s personnel and technological expertise to allow them to expand capability, improve ideas and devise cutting-edge technologies to counter cyber threats.

The programme will help startups boost and scale initial sales and business development with relevant partners, and secure follow-on third-party investment.

Startups will be given a grant by Wayra UK as well as a physical space to work in. Participants will have the opportunity to learn first-hand about cyber security best practice and gain Cyber Essential accreditation.

The programme will include insights to government procurement processes, IP management, export controls and information assurance architecture, and provide the opportunity to pitch products and services to government departments.

The facility will also fast-track new firms into the cyber security sector which contributed £1.8bn in exports to the UK economy and grew to become a £22bn industry in 2015.

The initiative marks the first step in the development of two world-class cyber innovation centres to receive £50m over five years, as part of the government’s £1.9m National Cyber Security Programme.

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Startups can apply via wayra.co.uk/gchq. The closing date for entries is Monday 17 October 2016. Successful startups will begin work in the accelerator in early 2017.

“We are making progress in our ambitious programme to support innovation in cyber security, grow the UK’s thriving sector, and protect Britain from cyber attacks and threats,” said digital and culture minister Matt Hancock.

“Our two new Cyber Innovation Centres will bring together government, academic and business expertise, and will be invaluable in helping support startup companies and develop world-class cyber technology,” he added.  

The accelerator will be based at a new Cheltenham Innovation Centre and is due to open around the end of 2016. A second innovation centre will open in London in 2017.

GCHQ deputy director for cyber skills and growth Chris Ensor said combining the knowledge and experience of GCHQ staff with some of the country’s newest startups and most creative entrepreneurs is a powerful combination that will deliver benefits to the cyber security of the UK.

“Cyber security is a team sport and as threats become more prolific and more complex, we should be sharing our experiences and views because there’s so much we can learn from each other,” he said.

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