NCSC for Startups

by Mark Rowe

The UK official National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) – a part of the government listening centre GCHQ – has used the Cheltenham Science Festival to formally open applications for NCSC for Startups. Tech companies can apply to help develop products to defend critical areas of the UK economy and society. Firms accepted onto the programme, from early-stage start-ups to scale-ups, will develop and pilot technology to protect the country from malicious activity, such as phishing and ransomware attacks. It’s the successor to the NCSC Cyber Accelerator, a programme which helped more than 40 tech companies raise in excess of £100m in investment.

While the Cyber Accelerator involved startups taking part in ten-week programmes at set times, NCSC for Startups will involve continual on-boarding of companies, as they apply to work on specific projects. It’s a collaboration between the NCSC and Plexal, the innovation centre based in east London. The programme will be supported by, CyNam, which brings Cheltenham’s cyber community together and Cheltenham-based coworking space Hub8.

Chris Ensor, NCSC Deputy Director for Cyber Growth, said: “We want to work with the UK’s thriving cyber security industry to explore new ideas that will make the UK the safest place to live and work online. NCSC for Startups offers the potential for even greater collaboration than ever before, and I would encourage startups to come forward and help us in our mission.”

Successful applicants will work from the NCSC for Startups HQ in Cheltenham, as well as remotely. They will also be eligible to apply for funding to help them develop their ideas. The chosen companies will receive direct support from Plexal’s cyber innovation team and staffers from the NCSC and GCHQ. Startups will also gain access to wider technical and commercial opportunities with Plexal’s industry partners across the UK’s cyber ecosystem. Startups will keep all intellectual property and equity created.

Saj Huq, Director of Innovation at Plexal, said: “Being at the cutting edge of cyber security is critical for solving the constantly evolving challenges and enabling the many technology-driven opportunities that an increasingly interconnected and digital world creates.

“NCSC for Startups is a unique opportunity for innovative startups to explore new concepts and collaborate with the UK government, Plexal and a broad spectrum of industry and academic partners to develop, iterate and pilot solutions that the UK needs the most.”

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