The UK government has announced a new 'first-of-its-kind' program designed to nurture the nation’s cybersecurity start-ups.
The £250,000 Early Stage Accelerator Programme will help start-ups in the space get advice, support and funding to develop their products and services and bring them to market.
It will be run by Cyber London – described as “Europe's first cybersecurity accelerator and incubator space” – and the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) at Queen’s University Belfast.
The latter has a strong track record in the cybersecurity space, having last year been on the receiving end of a £5m government investment project designed to expand cybersecurity research and innovation capabilities at the university.
The Center also won the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education 2015, for its work in cybersecurity.
Poppy Wood, chief of staff at Cyber London, explained that although the first phase of the Early Stage Accelerator will take place in London, it will support talent from across the UK.
“After the program the participants can choose to relocate away from London, be that to Belfast or elsewhere, but we will continue to support them throughout the duration of the program with mentoring personalized support,” she told Infosecurity.
“The UK is uniquely positioned to support cybersecurity start-ups thanks to our unique heritage in technology and information security innovation, our world-class academic capabilities and the density of our commercial sector.”
The current government has been a keen supporter of the UK’s burgeoning cybersecurity industry, announcing in November that spending on building “sovereign capabilities in cyberspace” would increase to £1.9 billion over the coming five years.
The government claim UK cybersecurity is currently worth £17.6bn , having grown an impressive 70% since 2013 – employing around 100,000 people.
Culture, media and sport secretary, John Whittingdale, praised the UK’s strong digital economy at a cybersecurity summit in London yesterday.
“As technologies continue to evolve there will be an increased demand for secure products and services, and this new program will ensure the best ideas from our brightest minds can help keep the UK safe in cyberspace,” he said in a statement.
It is hoped the new program will increase the rate of start-up development, help identify new business ideas, improve collaboration and help to test and validate commercially new ideas.
According to Wood, we could start seeing results pretty soon.
“The program is designed to connect individuals with more advanced innovation support mechanisms such as accelerators and incubators,” she said. “We would like participants to graduate into such programs as soon as they are able.”