GCHQ cyber security incubator picks Warwickshire startup

Last updated on: February 20, 2017, Author: Editorial Team

A GCHQ-backed startup incubator has opened its doors in the UK, announcing seven startups that will participate in the three month accelerator program.

CyberOwl is presenting the Midlands region. It is a joint venture between Coventry University and Crossword Cybersecurity plc and has been developing target-centric monitoring for networks based on research shortlisted for the Lloyd’s Science of Risk Prize 2015 from CyberOwl’s founding academic, Dr Siraj Ahmed Shaikh, a Reader in Cyber Security from Coventry.

Its process claims to more efficient than existing methods, which try to locate the sources of attacks.  Identifying sources is becoming increasingly difficult and resource intensive due to the growth rate of networks, the increasing volume of traffic and the speed of data transfer.  In the advent of smart cities and the Internet of Things, tracking down sources will potentially be an insufficient method of security, and will leave networks and sensitive data open to attacks.

The GCHQ Cyber Accelerator initiative was announced by the government in September, by tying up the domestic signals intelligence and cyber security agency; the UK’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS); and (Telefonica’s) Wayra UK accelerator initiative, which is running the program.

The UK government sees cyber security as a priority, with the government committing £1.9 billion to a National Cyber Security Strategy that runs to 2020, with funding available for several initiatives; including increasing numbers of cyber security staff at intelligence agencies; setting up a national cyber security hub to concentrate expertise and develop best practice; and widening government procurement for security technologies — including by investing in security startups.

The GCHQ backed accelerator is part of the strategy to drive cyber security ideas and innovation, domestically. It’s based within a new Cheltenham Cyber Innovation Centre. The startups have easy access to agency staff and expertise — to, as the government puts it, “allow them to expand capability, improve ideas and devise cutting-edge products to outpace current and emerging threats”.

GCHQ is not investing in the accelerated startups, but will be providing mentors — and, once the program has finished, teams may be able to go on to gain contractual relationships with the agency.

Participating start-ups also receive a financial grant (£5,000) from Wayra, which is also not taking equity at this point, and access to work space and IT equipment.

 

Wayra’s spokesman said the program will be reviewed after the first 3-month period and a decision on what happens next will be taken then.

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