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Microsoft to support next generation of security startups

Tech giant lends its support to the NCSC Cyber Accelerator scheme, which is seeking its seventh cohort of startups

Microsoft is to lend its expertise to the National Cyber Security Centre’s (NCSC’s) Cyber Accelerator programme as it seeks its next cohort of startups working to “make the UK the safest place to live and work online”.

The seventh group of new companies to move through the two-month Accelerator programme, which supports the development of products, skills, jobs and business growth, will focus on smart cities and the security risks associated with them.

These include safe and operationally viable use of data at scale, situational awareness of the vast numbers of non-traditional devices and sensors used in a smart city exercise, interfacing to critical national infrastructure, and correct operation of robotic systems to avoid harm, accident or malicious performance.

“The UK has a long history of innovation in cyber security with its roots in the ground-breaking work done at Bletchley Park,” said Chris Perkins, Microsoft general manager of UK public sector. “But the level of threat we face today is significant and growing.

“It’s why Microsoft invests more than $1bn a year in digital safety and analyses more than 600 million security threats per day. It’s why it’s critical we partner with the National Cyber Security Centre and the Cyber Accelerator programme to support the next wave of talent protecting British individuals, businesses and organisations.”

Microsoft will provide support through access to its own Accelerator alumni network, security and cloud expertise, as well as to its technology, including the Azure cloud platform and GitHub Enterprise. Startups moving through the programme will also be given a “streamlined path” into Microsoft’s global channel ecosystem.

Although it is not at first glance a cyber security firm, Microsoft’s scale and reach lends it a unique perspective on the world of security – not least through the importance of its monthly Patch Tuesday software updates – and its Threat Intelligence Team is often at the forefront of sector developments.

This year it has led on the global security response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and more recently, led a coalition of partners in a largely successful operation against the Trickbot ransomware-dropping botnet.

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Chris Ensor, NCSC deputy director for cyber skills and growth, said: “We are grateful to Microsoft for its involvement with the Cyber Accelerator programme and helping us nurture the most innovative cyber security talent.

“I would encourage all cyber security companies in the UK to take a look at the Cyber Accelerator programme and consider applying. Successful applicants will receive support from our world-class experts, setting them on their way to delivering the most cutting-edge security solutions of the future.”

The 10-week NCSC programme will begin in January 2021 and run through to March, with selected startups to be chosen through an open competition comprising a series of technical challenges run by the NCSC, designed to root out areas of cyber security weakness where there could be a niche for a new product.

Interested parties can find out more online. Assessment days are currently scheduled for 19 November and 3 December 2020.

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