April 7, 2020

The National Cyber Security Centre is opening a call for start-up businesses to help create a new wave of security solutions by joining its acclaimed Cyber Accelerator programme.

From today (April 6) companies can submit applications for the fifth cohort of the Cyber Accelerator programme, which is part of the UK Government’s £1.9billion National Cyber Security Strategy.

The programme enables tech entrepreneurs to play their part in helping make the UK a safer place to live and work online - as well as spurring innovation and competition to boost the UK's economic growth.

Since it began 30 companies have been successfully mentored by the programme, which is a collaboration between the NCSC, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), and powered by Wayra, Telefónica’s open innovation arm, which supports enterprises creating new products for the UK’s security industry.

During a ten-week mentoring programme based in Cheltenham, the chosen companies will meet major figures in the cyber security profession and will be given the chance to pitch their ideas to potential clients and investors.

The Accelerator programme gives extraordinary opportunities for those enterprises involved. In February, seven companies took part in the RSA conference on cyber security in California’s Silicon Valley. They were invited to a private coaching session at the ranch home of Steve Blank, the originator of the Lean-Start-Up movement.

The last rounds of the Accelerator programme have between them raised £35m in private funding for tech projects which flourished since being mentored by the NCSC and Wayra.

For further information on applications:

Case Study:

One of last year’s cohort in the Cyber Accelerator programme is Trust Stamp, which uses artificial Intelligence, deep neural networks and biometrics to create unique digital identities, bypassing the need for usernames and passwords.

An application developed by the company records facial biometrics, irreversibly converts them into a 'non-PII hash' and matches them with multiple sources, such as public records or social media to verify a person’s identity. Trust or preference data can be connected to the hash to facilitate transactions, whether by commercial or governmental agencies. Mastercard has already invested in the enterprise.

The company was co-founded in 2016 by CEO Gareth Genner, who said: “Biometrics are now ubiquitous as a method of authenticating identity, but they should not be stored. Our application allows a mixture of biometrics to be used but protects against the common vulnerabilities of fake identities, phishing and online security breaches by storing a non-PII hash that is matched using probabilistic Artificial Intelligence.

“Our initial work with Mastercard has been focused on enhancing data security in environments with low connectivity, such as parts of Africa, where we can create protected legal identities that can help communities when they want to register for, say vaccination programmes.

“Our company ethos is to create a world where secure, trusted identity is a universal human right, empowering opportunity and access for all.”

Gareth adds that the company’s participation in the Cyber Accelerator programme brought the benefit of “access to a huge amount of expertise from the NCSC that was simply not available anywhere else in the world.

“Through our links with NCSC we now have eleven staff gaining from that expertise in Cheltenham, and means that this year we are creating 20 new jobs in the area.”


The NCSC Cyber Accelerator, powered by Wayra and funded by DCMS, has mentored 30 technology start-ups to drive innovation for the next generation of cybersecurity solutions. The last rounds of the Accelerator programme have between them raised £35m in private funding for tech projects which flourished since being mentored by the NCSC and Wayra.

Part of the UK government’s £1.9bn National Cyber Security Strategy - which is pledged to make the UK the safest place to live and work online - the Accelerator gives selected entrepreneurs access to the unrivalled technological expertise at the NCSC in London and GCHQ in Cheltenham and Wayra's global business network.

About Wayra:

Wayra, which is Telefónica's global innovation arm, democratises entrepreneurship by providing access to networks and capital, turning start-ups into scale-ups, while ensuring that the start-ups reflect the UK ’s diversity. It has already accelerated almost 300 start-ups and invested in 193 of them, which have a combined value of over $1bn and have had 137 trials or contracts with Telefónica, generating $18.5m in revenue for its portfolio of start- ups. Wayra has seven hubs in Europe and Latin America, reaching the entrepreneurial ecosystems of 10 countries, making it one of the world’s most connected and technological innovation hubs.

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