Digital Catapult aims to scale UK's cybersecurity firms

Digital Catapult's £1m Cyber 101 scheme targets 32 SMBs over four years

Cyber security

A mentoring programme for cybersecurity startups is being launched under the government's National Cyber Security Strategy.

The government-funded Digital Catapult will run Cyber 101, with up to 1.1 million in funding coming from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), as part of 1.9 billion cybersecurity funding allocated to delivering the four-year strategy.

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The scheme aims to keep the UK at the forefront of the fight against global cyber threats by increasing the size of the country's cybersecurity market, and boosting startups' early success rates.

Cyber 101 will run over the next four years, with a pilot project beginning sometime between February and March this year. Cybersecurity companies across the UK will be given access to courses, one-day workshops, online resources, and opportunities to connect with potential customers through demonstration days.

"We're determined to make sure the UK remains a world-leading digital economy, the best place for innovative firms to start up and scale up, and that we are the safest place to live and do business online," said digital and culture secretary, Matt Hancock.

An open call for SMBs who wish to take part in the first year ends on 24 February. Successful applicants will be invited to a one day intensive workshop focusing on business skills like value proposition design, market validation, sales and marketing, risk management, compliance and digital tools that can help them expand and export.

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This will be followed by an online learning tool focused on their business's scaling capability. Those who complete both successfully will be shortlisted for an annual Demo Day, where they can pitch to customers and investors.

The scheme will only accept eight small businesses a year, expected to total 32 over the lifetime of the programme.

Digital Catapult, which recently launched a free IoT network to help SMBs innovate with emerging technology, will deliver Cyber 101 with the help of a consortium of partner support services. These include the Accelerator Network, which specialises in supporting tech entrepreneurs, and the Centre for Secure Information, a cybersecurity research lab that provides free engineering resources to emerging companies.

"Cybersecurity is a tier one threat in the UK with the threat landscape evolving at a rapid pace," said Jeremy Silver, CEO of Digital Catapult. "The government is committed to supporting the UK's ability to defend itself from cyber attacks and take action against cybercriminals."

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Silver argued that many cybersecurity companies are facing barriers to growth, and that in order for the UK to successfully defend itself, there needs to be room to innovate.

Trials of the Cyber 101 programme are planned at just two sites initially, before being expanded to the rest of the UK. Sample workshops will start on 10 March and 16 March in London, with further workshops planned on the 20 March and 29 March in Northern Ireland.

Those SMBs looking to take part in the workshops can apply through Digital Catapult's website.

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