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NCSC for Startups initiative launched with Plexal

National Cyber Security Centre and Plexal will support startups to develop products to address the government’s cyber security priorities

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has announced five startups that will join its new NCSC for Startups initiative, which is designed to help the UK government rapidly expand its cyber security capabilities.

The initiative is being run in partnership with East London-based innovation hub Plexal, and succeeds the NCSC Cyber Accelerator, a separate programme that helped more than 40 tech companies raise over £100m in external investment.

While the Cyber Accelerator was specifically geared around helping startups to scale, NCSC for Startups is open to startups at all stages of maturity.

“We are excited to welcome the first innovators to NCSC For Startups,” said Saj Huq, director of innovation at Plexal. “The response to our call for applications has been phenomenal and we’re looking forward to bringing on more startups throughout 2021 in response to specific challenges and technology needs in the cyber security market.

“The NCSC understands the UK’s cyber security challenges better than anyone, and the opportunity for innovative startups to benefit from its world-class insight and expertise is unique. Combined with Plexal’s extensive track record in supporting startups to become market leaders, NCSC For Startups will help companies address some of the most challenging security problems facing the government, businesses and society now and in the future.”

The five startups chosen to be in the programme’s first cohort include PORGiESOFT, an education technology startup using artificial intelligence (AI) to develop cyber fraud detection for enterprises; Exalens, which is helping small and medium-sized (SME) manufacturers with cheap threat detection services; and Enclave, which is helping organisations to create zero-trust overlay networks.

The other two startups chosen are Meterian, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that uses automation to secure open source software, and Rebellion Defence, a UK-US software company using AI to defend national security systems against threats such as ransomware.

The chosen companies will receive direct support from Plexal’s cyber innovation team, as well as from experts from GCHQ, of which the NCSC is part. The startups will also gain access to wider technical and commercial opportunities via Plexal’s partnerships and connections with others in the UK’s cyber security ecosystem.

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All the startups will also be able to keep all intellectual property and equity created during the programme.

“The UK has a thriving cyber security industry and I am excited to get to work with our first five companies and bring their innovations to life,” said Chris Ensor, deputy director for cyber growth at the NCSC.

“Finding great ideas that can help protect all areas of society is a key part of our mission and we look forward to collaborating with more startups as the programme rolls on.”

The programme will further be supported by Deloitte, Cheltenham-based cyber networking firm CyNam, tech skills provider QA, and Cheltenham-based co-working space Hub8.

The initiative itself will also be run from Cheltenham, where GCHQ is based. Although only five startups have been announced, the NCSC has said the initiative will involve the continual onboarding of companies throughout the year.

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