NCSC taps security startups to help defend the UK from cyber threats

Five startups have joined the Plexal initiative, which will work on areas such as threat detection, digital skills, and ransomware

Five UK startups have been selected to work with the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) to address the most serious national cyber security threats facing the UK.

The NCSC for Startups initiative is a joint venture with London-based innovation centre Plexal, supported by Deloitte, CyNam, Cheltenham-based co-working space Hub8, and tech skills provider QA.

The programme is the successor to the NCSC's Cyber Accelerator programme, which helped more than 40 tech companies raise over £100 million of investment.

The five companies - PORGiESOFT, Exalens, Enclave, Meterian, and Rebellion Defence - will receive direct support from Plexal's cyber innovation team as well as leading experts from the NCSC and GCHQ. They will also gain access to wider technical and commercial opportunities with Plexal's industry partners across the UK's cyber security ecosystem. However, each startup will keep all intellectual property and equity created during the programme.

The companies have been chosen to work on specific areas of cyber security, such as threat detection and zero trust overlays. PORGiESOFT, for example, provides an AI-based edtech service for teachers and students, helping them to explain or learn essential elements of cyber security.

Rebellion Defence uses AI to defend national security systems against threats like ransomware, expertise which will now be deployed to the national stage.

The NCSC programme is similar to the LORCA initiative run by Plexal, in that more startups will be selected in the coming months. These will be early-stage businesses at "all stages of maturity", according to Plexal.

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"The response to our call for applications has been phenomenal and we're looking forward to bringing on more startups throughout 2021 in response to specific challenges and technology needs in the cybersecurity market," said Saj Huq, director of Innovation at Plexal.

"The NCSC understands the UK's cybersecurity challenges better than anyone, and the opportunity for innovative startups to benefit from its world-class insight and expertise is unique. Combined with Plexal's extensive track record in supporting startups to become market leaders, NCSC For Startups will help companies address some of the most challenging security problems facing the government, businesses and society now and in the future."

Security startups interested in the NCSC for Startups programme can apply on the NCSC website.

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