Government Wants Startups to Build a More Secure Nation

The government has issued a call-to-arms to the UK’s burgeoning cybersecurity startups to help it defend the country from malicious online activity.

GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) used the Cheltenham Science Festival on Friday to launch NCSC for Startups.

The new program will invite applications from UK startups to develop products designed to defend critical areas of the economy and society.

It’s the successor to the NCSC Cyber Accelerator, a program that reportedly helped over 40 tech companies raise over £100m in external investments.

However, where it differs is that, whereas the accelerator required startups to participate in 10-week programs at set points of the year, NCSC for Startups will see continuous onboarding of successful applicants over the coming 12 months.

The idea is to drive more opportunities for these companies in the process.

Those chosen to participate will receive support from NCSC and GCHQ experts and NCSC partner Plexal, which is described as an “innovation center” with its own industry partners across the UK’s cybersecurity ecosystem.

Participating startups will be eligible to apply for funding, although there were no further details on how much.

“We want to work with the UK’s thriving cybersecurity industry to explore new ideas that will make the UK the safest place to live and work online,” said NCSC deputy director for cyber growth, Chris Ensor.

“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.”

The industry appeared to get a welcome boost from the pandemic last year, as demand for security services surged due to the mass switch to remote working.

According to one report, funding for UK cyber startups surged 940% in the first few months of the pandemic. That amounted to £496 million raised by investors in the first half of 2020, almost as much as the total figure for 2019 (£521 million).

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