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The first ten of 72 companies to benefit from London’s £13.5m government-funded cyber innovation centre in the next three years have been announced.
The centre, to be led by Plexal in partnership with Deloitte’s cyber team and the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) at Queen’s University Belfast, was officially opened by digital secretary Matt Hancock on 26 June 2018, when the first companies to pass through the incubator were introduced.
The first cohort will focus on a broad range of challenges identified by CSIT and Deloitte, according to Lydia Ragoonanan, director of the centre, which is to be known as the Office for Rapid Cybersecurity Advancement (Lorca).
“There will be a new cohort every six months focusing on particular challenges, and the first one is looking at orchestration to enable organisations to have a single view of their cyber security status, to automate processes to enable trust through compliance to gain competitive advantage,” she told Computer Weekly.
Commenting on the selection process, Ragoonanan said candidate organisations are evaluated in terms of the potential impact they could have in addressing particular security challenges faced by businesses and non-for-profit organisations, the sustainability of their business model, their entrepreneurial qualities and their ability to achieve success.
“Candidates need to be confident in what they are doing, but at the same time they need to be willing to listen to advice and insights from others and have an understanding of the areas where they need help,” she said.
“We want to be able to help the organistions we select to get the support they need and we want their solutions to be innovative and different, as well at addressing problems better than existing technologies.”
Another important thing to assess is how well organisations fit the programme, said Ragoonanan. “We look at the maturity of the organisation to see if it is right for what we have on offer, including the networks that we have, and whether they are mature enough and whether we can provide the technical support they need,” she said.
“It’s all about getting the right organisations on board, who can meet the challenges, who are right for the centre and are mature enough to be ready to scale up.”
Although only one of the nine companies in the first cohort was founded by a woman, Ragoonanan said diversity across all spheres, not just in terms of gender, is important. “Innovation requires a diverse range of perspectives and it is important to recognise that innovation can come from anywhere,” she said.
At the official opening of the centre, Ragoonanan emphasised the collaborative nature of Lorca. “Although London-based, our arms are open to innovators, industry, experts, creators, sister programmes and investors the length and breadth of the country and beyond,” she said.
“We want to be bold in our outreach as well as bold in our outlook. Being a world leader in cyber security and innovation, as this centre is here to support, requires staying ahead. So we need to be brave in our ambitions. We also need to be creative in our outlook.”
This means that the centre is not just about the organisations on the programme, said Ragoonanan, but also about everyone else in the cyber community and beyond.
“It is an opportunity to push the envelope and to take inspiration from other disciplines, so we need to be open to solutions from other sectors,” she said. “Combining all these things, we believe, will help our community achieve incredible things and rapidly advance the best cyber security solutions.”
The companies selected for the first Lorca cohort are: vulnerability detection, prioritisation and containment firm Aves Netsec, heartbeat biometric authentication firm B-Secur, web application threat analysis firm Cyberlytic, early warning provider Cyber Owl, anti-phishing firm Cybershield, secure cloud connectivity service Iotec, security awareness firm Think Cyber Security, cyber security information sharing platform provider Surevine, verified parental consent provider Trust Elevate and insider threat management firm ZoneFox.