UK’S largest cyber start-up accelerator reveals members

Cyber Runway replaces and consolidates three DCMS-funded programmes

Posted 18 November 2021 by Christine Horton

Plexal, the innovation company founded by Delancey, has revealed details of the largest cyber start-up accelerator in the UK, the Cyber Runway accelerator programme.  

Cyber Runway replaces and consolidates three DCMS-funded programmes: HutZero, Cyber 101 and Tech Nation’s cyber accelerator for start-ups.  

It has been designed to address some of the biggest challenges facing cybersecurity, such as diversity and inclusion and regional representation, and support the most promising innovators at various stages of growth.  

The cohorts are solving challenges like ransomware, cyber fraud, cyber-physical threats to critical national infrastructure, cloud security, improving threat intelligence and boosting education using emerging technologies such as AI, quantum and cloud security.

“This is a golden age for the UK cyber startup ecosystem,” said Saj Huq, director of innovation at Plexal. “Cyber start-ups are attracting record levels of investment and both the government and global tech giants are coming to British cyber companies to adopt emerging cyber technologies. The scale of Cyber Runway is testament to the enormous potential within the cyber start-up community and will help stimulate the supply of innovative cyber solutions that will be needed by the economy and society.  

“Our three programmes will connect cyber founders to the mentors, investors and corporates they need to accelerate their growth and access diverse talent. This is a significant moment for UK cyber and I have every confidence that the collaboration between the government and the private sector to create Cyber Runway will make the cyber ecosystem more successful, innovative and inclusive.” 

Six-month programme

Backed by the DCMS and delivered by Plexal in partnership with CyLon, Deloitte and CSIT (the Centre for Secure Information Technologies), Cyber Runway will be an intensive six-month programme.

Three distinct streams will deliver dedicated curricula for cyber start-ups based on their growth phase: Launch, Grow and Scale.

Launch: 20 entrepreneurs will get support with launching their business, building a minimum viable product and creating a network.  

Grow: 68 start-ups and SMEs will get business support to help them address their growing pains, access funding and achieve commercial success.  

Scale: 20 scale-ups will access support (including 1:1 mentoring) to help them grow rapidly in the UK and around the world.  

Diversity and inclusion

Forty-five percent of Cyber Runway members are female-led start-ups and 52 percent are run by founders from black, ethnic or minority backgrounds.  

Plexal has ensured inclusivity is at the heart of Cyber Runway by including under-represented groups in the design and delivery of the programme. Members will also have access to a diverse mentor pool of investors and industry experts.  

Half of member companies are based outside of London and the South East of England. From Ashford to Yeovil, members and their teams are based across the country and Cyber Runway will be delivered in person and virtually to maximise nationwide reach.    

Members include scale-ups such as CybSafe, which raised £5 million earlier this year for its security awareness software, SECQAI, which uses quantum technology and AI to combat cyber threats, Yorkshire-based Bob’s Business, which delivers cyber training, insurtech startup Regulativ.ai, which aims to disrupt cyber regulatory compliance, and Hack The Box, which raised £7 million in April for its online cybersecurity training platform.  

Government-backed cyber programmes

Plexal now delivers four of the five government-backed cyber programmes in the UK. It has delivered LORCA (the London Office for Rapid Cybersecurity Advancement) for the last three years and is currently delivering LORCA Ignite, which is supporting cyber scaleups. Over the last three years, LORCA has helped cohort companies raise more than £200m in investment and generate over £37m in revenue.

Plexal is also delivering NCSC For Startups, which connects cyber start-ups to technical experts within UK government to drive innovations that can make the UK safer online.