Gov-backed programme aims to spark innovation in UK cyber industry

Cyber Runway will help startups and small businesses turn their ideas into viable business opportunities

A new programme has been launched that will provide small businesses and entrepreneurs access to masterclasses, mentoring, and product development, in a bid to fast track innovation across the UK's cyber security industry.

Dubbed Cyber Runway, the programme is backed by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and will be delivered by Plexal, in partnership with CyLon, Deloitte, and the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT).

It aims to support around 160 organisations and companies over the course of six months. Applicants, mentors, and investors who are interested in taking part in the programme can now submit an expression of interest.

The programme will feature three routes for startups and small businesses, the first of which will provide support for turning ideas into viable business models. There will also be a route for those already established that need business support, and another for those looking to scale up and establish themselves nationally.

The DCMS has described the cyber security sector as one of the UK’s tech success stories, with revenue growing by 7% in the last financial year and the number of companies increasing by 21%. It added that the sector is now worth £8.9 billion and that companies participating in the DCMS’ cyber growth initiatives in the past have, on average, more than tripled their revenues year on year.

“The UK’s cyber sector is booming and we’re working tirelessly to ensure the benefits are felt by businesses and individuals right across the country,” said Matt Warman, minister for digital infrastructure. “Our new Cyber Runway programme will help tackle barriers to growth, increase investment and give firms vital support to take their businesses to the next level.”

Cyber Runway is set to promote growth across the UK to support the government’s levelling up agenda. The government said that much of the activity aims to build on the success of emerging cyber hubs such as those in Cheltenham, Manchester, Belfast, Cardiff, Glasgow, and Edinburgh.

The programme also hopes to support founders and innovators “from a diverse range of backgrounds, by targeting applicants from underrepresented groups in the UK’s cyber sector “such as women and people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds”.

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Plexal, the company tapped to run the programme, recently signed on to support an initiative launched by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), dubbed NCSC for Startups. That programme will sponsor startups to develop new tools for protecting the UK from cyber attacks.

In April, the UK government launched nearly 400 free qualifications as part of its Lifetime Skills Guarantee, with 31 of them classed as digital qualifications on topics such as computer science, software deployment, systems infrastructure, and cyber security practices. The government claimed that adults who took the free courses would have the potential to boost career prospects, wages, and help fill skill gaps while supporting the economy.

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