Government launches cybersecurity start-up initiative

£250 million scheme hopes to drive new ideas in the local economy

UK cybersecurity start-ups are set to receive support from a new government scheme intended to drive innovation and help protect the country's businesses from cyber attacks.

New companies offering cybersecurity solutions will be offered advice and support from the Early Stage Accelerator Programme, a 250,000 scheme run in partnership by Cyber London, Europe's first cybersecurity accelerator and incubator space, and the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) at Queen's University Belfast.

The programme, which will open to applicants in March, aims to speed up the rate at which cybersecurity start-ups launch in the UK, as well as help entrepreneurs test the commercial viability of ideas and products and provide a space in which the early stage companies can collaborate.

Speaking at the joint UK/US Global Cyber Security Innovation Summit, John Whittingdale, secretary of state for culture, media and sport, said: "The UK's strong and growing digital economy is changing the way we live and work. As technologies continue to evolve there will be an increased demand for secure products and services, and this new programme will ensure the best ideas from our brightest minds can help keep the UK safe in cyberspace."

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The project is being funded by the government's National Cyber Security Programme, and aims to offer help to those start-ups in their early stages of development that may find it harder to gather investment elsewhere.

"CSIT and Cyber London are at the heart of the UK's cybersecurity start-up ecosystem and together we bring a strength of cyber capability, a track record of producing and nurturing start-ups, and an ability to leverage significant additional industry and innovation support partnerships from across the globe," said Stephen Wray, commercial director of CSIT.

Cyber London's Kirsten Connell added: "Naturally we're very pleased that Cyber London and CSIT have been selected to deliver the Cyber Security Early Stage Accelerator Programme. We believe the UK is one of the world's best places to build cybersecurity businesses, and this programme will help to make it easier for innovation to develop into commercial success." 

The scheme is part of a wider government strategy working to promote the UK's cybersecurity industry, which has grown 70 per cent since 2013 (to 17.6 billion). A new 1.9 billion investment into cybersecurity was announced late last year, with Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne warning of incoming "cyber warfare" from ISIS against Britain.

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