DSIT, Plexal announce Cyber Runway 3.0 to support UK cybersecurity startups

Cyber Runway 3.0 aims to help startups launch, grow, and scale to address key challenges facing the UK’s cybersecurity sector.

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The UK’s Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) and innovation company Plexal have announced the launch of Cyber Runway 3.0, the latest version of the growth platform for UK cybersecurity startups. First launched in 2021 and run from the Here East campus in Hackney, East London, Cyber Runway helps startups launch, grow, and scale to address the challenges facing the UK’s cybersecurity sector. These include increasing entrepreneurial representation within the innovation ecosystem and creating greater connectivity between regional, national, and international networks.

Seven Cyber Runway cohorts comprising over 170 companies have been supported over the past two years, with 52% of companies outside of the South East, 50% led by women, and 43% led by Black and minority ethnic founders, according to a Plexal press release.

Startups contribute significantly to the UK’s cybersecurity ecosystem, with the likes of Darktrace, PQShield, Snyk, and Tessian among some of the most successful in recent years. In February, it was announced that Tech Nation, a key supporter and driver of the UK’s tech scaleup market for a decade, would be ceasing operations following the termination of its core government grant funding. This was a result of the firm’s chief funding from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) being awarded to Barclays Bank’s tech incubator Eagle Labs.

The launch of Cyber Runway 3.0 comes in the wake of the UK government’s cybersecurity breaches survey 2023, which revealed that businesses suffering attacks are met with a £1,100 cost each on average, rising to £4,960 for medium and large companies.

Cyber Runway 3.0 expands support across four streams

Cyber Runway 3.0 sees the introduction of expanded support for entrepreneurs and startups across four areas. These are:

  • A bootcamp to help budding entrepreneurs, graduates, and spinouts get their business off the ground and build connections
  • A programme for cyber startups and SMEs to achieve product-market fit, get commercialisation support, and lay the foundations for growth
  • A programme helping scaleups and high-growth startups remove barriers to growth nationally and around the world
  • A programme for exceptional founders of cybersecurity startups to help them develop as leaders and scale their businesses

Cyber Runway will also connect entrepreneurs and startups with investors, security leaders, and the government to support them in developing technologies which address a broad commercial need and have potential to scale and help them achieve a closer product-market fit, Plexal and DSIT said.

Cyber Runway 3.0 begins with initial recruitment on May 10, with programmes beginning in July. Interested entrepreneurs and startups can apply on Plexal’s website. Plexal said it is also keen to hear from security leaders, investors, and experienced founders who want to mentor entrepreneurs going through the accelerator.

Cyber Runway 3.0 targets prosperity, job creation, enhanced national security

This year’s accelerator will enable the vast array of cyber founders in the UK to have more opportunities to develop in a way that best suits their individual needs, said Saj Huq, CCO and head of innovation at Plexal. “I’m really excited for that to continue, leading to more prosperity and job creation, as well as enhanced national security – both of which are central to our mission at Plexal.”

Whether it’s entrepreneurs, a business laying the foundations for growth, or startup founders wanting to develop as a leader, the third iteration of Cyber Runway will offer the most comprehensive support package yet for the cybersecurity startups community, added Viscount Camrose, minister for cyber, AI, and intellectual property.

For Cyber Runway graduate Nadia Kadhim, CEO at Naq Cyber, the key takeaway from her time with the program was sharing experiences with fellow startups. “What I found very, very powerful was the coaching on imposter syndrome. Six months ago, I felt very uncertain but now I’ve become a genuine leader.”


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