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Cyber Runway programme supports new security businesses

The Cyber Runway programme is a government-backed scheme to support entrepreneurs, startups and scaleups in launching and growing new security businesses

A new government-supported scheme to support the UK’s growing cyber security sector will offer new security firms offered business masterclasses, mentoring, product development support, networking events, and backing to trade internationally and secure investment.

Launched today, the Cyber Runway programme is to be delivered by Plexal, CyLon, Deloitte, and the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) at Queen’s University Belfast, and its backers hope to on-board 160 organisations and companies between now and February 2022.

Official statistics suggest the UK’s cyber industry is one of the country’s stronger tech sectors; currently valued at £8.9bn, its revenues grew by 7% in the 2020-21 fiscal year, and the number of companies in the sector was up 21%. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) claims that companies which have participated in its security growth schemes more than triple their revenues on average.

“The UK’s cyber sector is booming and we’re working tirelessly to ensure the benefits are felt by businesses and individuals right across the country,” said digital minister Matt Warman.

“Our new Cyber Runway programme will help tackle barriers to growth, increase investment and give firms vital support to take their businesses to the next level.”

The Cyber Runway scheme has been designed with a particular focus on regions of the UK targeted by the government’s so-called “levelling up” agenda, with other activities building on the success of emerging cyber hubs in Belfast, Cardiff, Cheltenham, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester.

It will also target founders and innovators drawn from underrepresented groups in security; the programme has set itself specific targets around supporting businesses led by women and people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.

Read more about security business development in the UK

Plexal innovation director Saj Huq said: “Covid-19 has catalysed the need for effective cyber security across industries, and a record level of capital is being invested into the sector. But there is still a need for support for businesses at the earliest stages of their development and innovators and entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities still face barriers when entering the ecosystem.

“These are challenges we look forward to addressing with Cyber Runway by supporting the best innovators, regardless of their background or geography, to thrive and grow.”

CyLon CEO Nick Morris added: “The UK’s cyber security ecosystem is at a critical and exciting point in its development, with both new challenges and new opportunities having arisen out of the pandemic. Through its Launch, Grow and Scale streams, we believe Cyber Runway will be able to help a diverse range of entrepreneurs, startups and scaleups capitalise on this.

Louise Cushnahan, head of innovation at CSIT, said: “CSIT has a strong reputation for providing support to cyber startups through their various growth stages.

“We are delighted to bring our expertise to Cyber Runway to collaborate with cyber companies and entrepreneurs bringing innovative cyber solutions to market.”

The Cyber Runway programme is now open to expressions of interest from potential applicants, as well as investors and mentors. More details can be found here.

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