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NCSC wants to support star entrepreneurs: Here's how to apply

UK entrepreneurs can now apply to take part in the ‘NCSC For Startups’ initiative

The new initiative sees entrepreneurs work with experts from within the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) to develop, adapt or pilot technology to meet the biggest cyber security challenges facing the UK.

The NCSC, which is part of GCHQ, and innovation company Plexal, have launched the programme to grow “inherent, better efficiencies” in key cybersecurity areas, Saj Huq, CCO and head of innovation at Plexal, told SC Media UK.

“We are looking for companies with the best ideas to work with... they will gain access to our network and experience,” Huq added.

Startups can take part in a three-month intensive programme or a 12-month programme that involves committing at least two days a month, based in the NCSC’s innovation HQ in Cheltenham.

Entrepreneurs get support with areas like investment, marketing, connections to private sector opportunities and product development support. They also work with experts within the NCSC who have insights into the UK’s emerging cyber security needs and challenges.

Operational technology 
The NCSC is particularly looking for businesses that can unlock the benefits of Industry 4.0 without increasing the risk profile.

Highly available operational technology environments are particularly important to protect – especially in scenarios where internet-controlled systems are introduced to legacy operational technology and operational staff aren’t trained in cyber security best practice.

This affects sectors such as energy, agriculture, food manufacturing and advanced manufacturing. Food companies are particularly at risk from digital sabotage, food adulteration, theft of intellectual property and corporate espionage.

Small businesses and individuals 
A proliferation of cyberattacks against small organisations is coming at the worst time following a rise in energy costs, soaring inflation and understaffing making businesses and individuals particularly vulnerable. That’s why the NCSC has identified the below challenges as being ripe for innovation:

Building universal cyber awareness
It’s essential that cyber security protects the whole of society, including SMEs and people who are increasingly reliant on the internet.

The NCSC wants to work with startups that can offer new and unique ways of helping people and SMEs effectively implement cyber hygiene best practices like two-factor authentication, updating devices or creating backups or identify online fraud.

Incident response for SMEs and individuals
The NCSC wants to work with startups that can help SMEs and individuals respond effectively to incidents when they occur and build in resilience.

For example, this could include being able to automate response actions across user devices using machine learning. 

Better cyber security training and behaviour change
The NCSC wants to work with startups that have innovative and novel ways of getting people and businesses to learn about and engage with cyber security to create a positive security culture.

Chris Ensor, deputy director for cyber growth at the NCSC, said: “Our mission is to make the UK the safest place to live and do business online, which means providing support and expertise across a whole range of areas.

“Startups have a big role to play in this, and I’d strongly encourage those with ideas to NCSC for Startups and benefit from leading experts in cyber security.”

NCSC For Startups is the successor to the NCSC Cyber Accelerator, which helped more than 40 tech companies raise over £100m in external investment. 

Previous cohort members include unicorn company Rebellion Defence, which used NCSC For Startups to achieve a closer product-market fit and gain unique insights from inside the UK’s defence sector.

The next intake is on September 28th 2022.

Applicants can apply to NCSC for Startups here.

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