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Cyber startup specialist Plexal has announced that a total of 108 UK security startups are to join its Cyber Runway accelerator programme, designed to address some of the most pressing security challenges facing the UK – such as ransomware and fraud – with cutting-edge emerging technology.
East London-based Plexal said the Cyber Runway will host the largest cohort of new security businesses ever seen in the UK, and the most diverse community of founders, with 45% of entrants led by women, and 52% by people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.
The programme also boasts increased regional representation, with 50% of companies based outside of London and South East England.
“This is a golden age for the UK cyber startup ecosystem,” said Plexal innovation director Saj Huq. “Cyber startups are attracting record levels of investment, and both the government and global tech giants are coming to British cyber companies to adopt emerging cyber technologies.
“The scale of Cyber Runway is testament to the enormous potential in the cyber startup community, and will help stimulate the supply of innovative cyber solutions that will be needed by the economy and society.
“However, Cyber Runway is also specifically designed to address some of the challenges facing cyber startups as they scale,” he said. “Our three programmes will connect cyber founders to the mentors, investors and corporates they need to accelerate their growth and access diverse talent.
“This is a significant moment for UK cyber and I have every confidence that the collaboration between the government and the private sector to create Cyber Runway will make the cyber ecosystem more successful, innovative and inclusive,” said Huq.
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As has become usual for Plexal-delivered programmes – it also delivers schemes under the London Office for Rapid Cybersecurity Advancement (Lorca) brand, and on behalf of the National Cyber Security Centre – Cyber Runway members will receive backing from partners such as CyLon, Deloitte and Queen’s University Belfast’s Centre for Secure Information Technologies, with further backing from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
The scheme will be split into three “streams” depending on what stage of the startup or scaleup lifecycle each participant has reached. These are Launch, providing support with setting up a business, creating a minimum viable product, and business networking; Grow, addressing growing pains, funding access, and achieving commercial success; and Scale, helping scaleups access support, including one-on-one mentoring to grow in the UK and abroad.
Among the businesses moving forward within the programme are firms such as CybSafe, a supplier of security education, assistance and analytics tools, which recently scored a £5m funding round and is taking part in the Grow channel.
Oz Alashe, who founded CybSafe following a career in special forces, said: “There are few accelerator programmes that have the scale, network, or commitment to diversity and inclusion offered by Cyber Runway. I have no doubt this will be beneficial for CybSafe. I’m delighted to join a nationwide community of ambitious, innovative cyber founders and look forward to sharing ideas, knowledge and experience with other members.”
Participating in the same stream is Capslock, a cyber “bootcamp” programme that aims to reskill adult learners and career changes for jobs in security. Co-founder Andrea Cullen, who previously developed GCHQ-approved cyber security degrees, has already experienced Plexal programmes before.
“Having graduated from the fifth cohort of Lorca, I have experienced first-hand the impact of Plexal’s unique combination of commercial expertise, industry connections and peer-to-peer learning networks,” she said. “Cyber Runway will provide opportunities for Capslock to continue scaling and realise its full potential.”
The full list of members can be found at Plexal’s website.