Learning from the spooks at GCHQ, the British intelligence and security organisation,is a chance few cybersecurity startups would pass up on. And now seven fresh businesses will be the envy of their peers after getting selected to join the agency’s new accelerator and learn from the experts who are keeping the UK’s digital borders safe.
GCHQ this week officially launched the accelerator, which is based at the Cheltenham Innovation Centre, together with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and Wayra UK, the startup accelerator. The aim is to keep the UK secure online, enable companies to produce the next generation of cybersecurity systems and boost the country’s £22 billion cybersecurity sector, which currently contributes around £2bn a year in exports to the UK economy.
Congratulating the seven selected startups joining the three-month-long program, Matt Hancock, minister of state for digital and culture, said: “This is an important step in delivering our National Cyber Security Strategy and supported by £1.9bn transformative investment in cyber security.”
The lucky startups will not only receive a £5,000 grant from Wayra, which will not be taking equity, but will also benefit from mentoring, contact with an extensive investor network, office space within the new GCHQ Cyber Accelerator and get access to GCHQ’s world-class personnel and technical expertise.
The seven startups are CounterCraft, company protecting large organisations with a cybersecurity deception platform; Cyberowl, a firm developing an early-warning system for cyberattacks; Cybersmart, a platform that automates implementation, certification and compliance with cybersecurity standards; FutureScaper, a platform providing data visualisations in order to make sense of complex, uncertain or volatile issues; Spherical Defence, a Banking API intrusion detection system that uses deep learning; StatusToday, an AI-powered intelligence platform; and Verimuchme, a digital wallet and exchange platform.
Cybersecurity is definitely a sector to keep an eye on in 2017. Between March 31 2015 to March 31 2016, cybersecurity incidents cost British businesses over £34bn according to Beaming, the company offering connectivity and telephony services. Meanwhile, Darktrace, the cybersecurity startup, raised £50m in the third quarter of 2016. No wonder then that a second centre will open in London later this year as part of the government’s National Cyber Security Programme and DCMS is contributing up to £50m over the next five years to deliver the two innovation centres.
The only question remaining is if James Bond’s buddy Q will remain working for MI6 or will jump ship for one of the startups chosen to join the accelerator’s first batch.