London innovation hub Plexal has selected 35 startups and scaleups to join its second cohort. Cyber Runway AcceleratorThe largest government-backed program of its kind in the UK.
Plexal, which open application In the second cohort in July 2022, an initial 100 startups were expected to be included in the program – jointly funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and supported by Deloitte and the Center for Secure Information Technology. CSIT) at Queen’s University Belfast.
35 companies are trying to solve various pressing challenges in the cyber security sector, ransomware, zero-day attacks, secure authentication, incident response and generally improving cyber awareness.
Around 45% of new Cyber Runway members are based outside London and the South East of England, 65% have women in their leadership teams and 28% are led by founders from black, ethnic or minority backgrounds.
With only 35 companies selected for the second cohort, Plexal said it is supporting an additional 60 companies through an on-demand hub, which gives them access to masterclasses and the ability to connect directly with experts and mentors for support. It added that Cyber Runway is intended to help firms in a more targeted way, based on those that would benefit most from additional support.
“Our health sector, telecom networks, food system and business are being bombarded by increasingly sophisticated cyber security threats. To become a global science and technology superpower and harness the potential of emerging technologies, we need to nurture the best indigenous cyber security innovations,” said Saj Haque, chief commercial officer and head of innovation, Plexal.
“Cyber Runway is designed to help start, grow and scale companies capable of meeting these challenges, and our new team represents the most exciting startups with tremendous growth potential.”
Cyber Minister Julia Lopez added: “We are supporting businesses on the frontline to defend the UK against cyber threats. Our investment in these innovative British startups helps create skilled jobs and a more diverse workforce, which strengthens our national security as well as our thriving technology industry.”
Startups and scaleups joining the program will benefit from both in-person and virtual masterclasses; Engineering support from consultants, CSIT, as well as CSIT’s data and test center; Technical product development support; Opportunity to connect to international cyber hubs; and networking with investors and corporates for growth.
when First run of the Cyber Runway program Launch, Grow and Scale – saw a total of 108 startups take part across three tracks – while Plexal is only looking for companies to join the Grow and Scale track. Eligible startups can be anywhere from pre-seed to Series B and above.
Startups on the grow track include CyberMind, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to help under-stressed cyber professionals manage their mental health; Guardara, a software quality assurance platform that enables security teams, quality assurance teams and developers to identify bugs and zero-day vulnerabilities; and Contxt, which monitors application programming interfaces (APIs) to protect dynamic data by remediating authorization issues, correcting personal data, and preventing data leaks.
Others on the scale track include Quantum Dice, which is developing the world’s first compact source-device independent quantum random number generator; and Worlder, which secures employee data using a zero-trust architecture.
Plexal is also involved in a number of other cybersecurity accelerator programs. It includes Greater Manchester’s digital security hub (DiSH), which opens applications in August 2022 and is designed to support the growth of early-stage startups across the North West; and is working with the National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) to implement it NCSC for Startup Initiatives, which is specifically designed to help the UK government rapidly expand its cyber security capabilities. NCSC is part of GCHQ.