The NCSC Cyber Accelerator is a collaboration between the UK Government Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC, part of GCHQ) , and Wayra UK (Telefónica's Open Innovation Hub).
What sort of companies is the NCSC Cyber Accelerator looking for in upcoming cohorts?
For the upcoming cohort that is due to start in October 2020 (TBC), we are seeking start-ups whose products / services are focussed on the sociotechnical approach to cyber security. You can find out more about our sociotechnical scouting themes, that are briefly outlined in the title questions below, here.
A key difference this year is that we are also accepting applications on a rolling basis and will be filling up further cohorts on a first-come-first-served basis throughout the year. Our first 10-week programme, starting in October (TBC), will centre on the NCSC sociotechnical challenge questions outlined above.
However, we are always open to applications from start-ups with solutions that could be for any customers, from individuals at home to the world’s biggest companies, but start-ups must address one or more of the traditional NCSC challenge themes outlined briefly in the bulletpoints below and fully in the "Themes" section further down this page.
As part of its mission to make the UK the safest place to live and work online, the NCSC is looking for start-ups who:
What does the NCSC Cyber Accelerator programme involve?
The NCSC Cyber Accelerator is run in partnership with Wayra UK, combining the NCSC’s technical expertise and Wayra’s commercial expertise to the World’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
The programmes will run for 10 weeks each in Cheltenham and meet in person three days a week.
In order to make best use of working with the NCSC and GCHQ, the programme is based in Cheltenham and a founder of each company is expected to attend each day. To have a national reach but a Cheltenham-focus, the programme offers a £9,000 stipend to cover travel costs.
Each cohort selects up to 10 companies, which range in their maturity from early stage angel investment to securing initial seed investment.
Through a combination of technical and commercial mentorship and introductions, the programme works with start-ups to:
NCSC Cyber Accelerator Programme in 2020/2021
In order for start-ups to derive as much from the programme as possible, it has been established as a physical and in-person programme and we plan to maintain this key characteristic.
We intend to commence the first cohort, in person, in late July 2020, however we will confirm exact dates once there is more clarity on travel and lockdown restrictions due to COVID-19.
We are accepting applications on a rolling basis and will be filling up spaces on upcoming cohorts on a first come first served rule for those start-ups who are successful at a selection day.
Start-ups who have applied and progress to a selection day will need to attend (either virtually or in person) an NCSC selection day on one of the dates below. We will be scouting on a rolling basis for the three programme cohorts across the year. We have up to 10 spaces on each cohort.
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.”