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Plexal takes on new cohort for cyber security leadership scheme

Six more cyber security startup founders have been selected to take part in Plexal’s latest Cyber Runway Ignite programme, which is designed to help them develop their leadership skills

London startup hub Plexal has inducted six “high-potential” startup founders into its government-backed leadership mentoring programme.

Part of Plexal’s broader Cyber Runway accelerator programme, Cyber Runway Ignite is specifically designed to help startup founders develop their leadership abilities through a bespoke package of support over a six-month period.

This will include mentorship, in-person deep-dive days and virtual workshops, 1:1 leadership coaching, a founders retreat, as well as the opportunity to form connections with industry leaders and investors.

Topics covered during the programme will include exit and growth strategies, finding product-market fit, how to set missions and make an impact, how to effectively build teams and delegate, and how to manage stress and burnout among employees.

The founders selected include Emma Humphrey, CEO of secure cloud provider Kuro, a company that aims to lower barriers to cloud access to address national defence and security challenges; George Dunlop, co-founder of Quantum Dice, which uses a “quantum random number generator” to create unpredictable security keys; and Jonathan Wood, founder of security and compliance firm C2 Cyber.

Others include Lorna Armitage, co-founder of cyber security training and education firm Capslock; Mayur Upadhyaya, CEO of application programming interface (API) security firm Contxt, which provides end-to-end visibility of technical infrastructure and monitors the flow of personal data within it to prevent security incidents; and Shelley Langan-Newton, CEO of digital identify verification platform SQR.

“It’s an honour to continue collaborating with the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology to provide these six exciting and passionate startup leaders with the opportunity to develop themselves, their businesses and drive greater cyber resilience in the UK through Cyber Runway Ignite,” said Saj Huq, chief commercial officer and head of innovation at Plexal.

“Our programme is just one step towards our goal of making the cyber security sector more diverse and inclusive, and we’re thrilled to bring together idea-rich leaders from different backgrounds and connect them with our ecosystem of investors, security leaders and government to support them in achieving their individual needs.”

Run in partnership with the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT), the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) and Deloitte, the wider Cyber Runway programme has been running since 2021, with the Ignite leadership stream being formally integrated with the other aspect in May 2023.

Plexal runs a variety of other startup accelerator programmes, including Greater Manchester’s Digital Security Hub (DiSH), which is designed to help commercialise early-stage security startups throughout the north-west; and Lorca Ignite, an intensive cyber security scaleup programme Plexal ran through its London Office for Rapid Cybersecurity Advancement (Lorca) programme. 

It also runs an accelerator initiative in partnership with the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) – part of British signals intelligence agency GCHQ – known as NCSC for Startups, which is designed to help the UK government rapidly expand its cyber security capabilities.

Speaking to Computer Weekly in January 2023, Plexal CEO Andrew Roughan said its innovation work was focused around three central pillars: national security, which encompasses everything from bio and cyber security to police technology; emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain and quantum, with the specific goal of helping the UK government realise its science and technology agenda; and prosperity, which means looking at how technology and innovation can make a difference to communities.

“Our North Star is pretty much government policy,” said Roughan, adding that Plexal’s focus was on “bringing people together, creating new ideas, orchestrating change, and then driving impact depending on what policy is”.

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