NCSC Startup Program Seeking Candidates to Help Protect Critical Infrastructure

Applications have opened for the next cohort of the NCSC For Startups program, which is looking for early-stage companies focused on protecting the UK’s critical national infrastructure from cyber threats.

The program, launched in 2021, is run by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) in partnership with Plexal. A successor to the NCSC Cyber Accelerator, the program offers cybersecurity startup companies the opportunity to work with experts from within the NCSC to develop, adapt or pilot technology to meet the biggest cybersecurity challenges facing the UK. In addition, successful applicants will receive support in areas like investment, marketing, connections to private sector opportunities and product development support.

Each cohort helps develop startups involved in a specific area of cybersecurity. For example, in May 2022, five startups were selected for their innovative approaches to tackling the growing ransomware problem.

For the next cohort, the NCSC is seeking firms developing solutions to meet the challenges facing operational technology (OT), SMEs and digital citizens. There is growing concern about the ability to protect OT environments, especially when internet-controlled systems are introduced to legacy operational technology and operational staff aren’t trained in cybersecurity best practices. This issue particularly affects critical sectors, such as energy, agriculture and food manufacturing.

Startups that offer new and unique ways of helping people and SMEs stay secure amid surging cyber-attacks are also being sought for the next program. This includes helping SMEs implement cyber hygiene best practices, respond to incidents, build cyber resiliency and develop engaging staff awareness training.

Chris Ensor, deputy director for cyber growth at the NCSC, commented: “The NCSC’s mission is to make the UK the safest place to live and do business online, which means providing support and expertise across a whole range of areas. Startups have a big role to play in this, and I’d strongly encourage those with ideas for protecting operational technology, SMEs and digital citizens to apply to NCSC for Startups and benefit from leading experts in cyber security.”

 Saj Huq, CCO and head of innovation at Plexal, added: “Increasing cyber risks, together with the insecure adoption of emerging technologies across society, could diminish economic growth, threaten online safety and erode public trust. The UK’s future prosperity hinges on the need to build cyber resilience across all sections of our economy, within all layers of our supply chains and across all aspects of our critical infrastructure. NCSC For Startups provides a unique platform for mission-orientated innovators to address these needs and unlock numerous market opportunities.”

Successful applicants can participate in a three-month intensive program or a 12-month program that involves committing at least two days a month, based in the NCSC’s innovation HQ in Cheltenham.  

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