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Cyber 101: supporting the UK’s next cyber superstars

Posted 6 Dec 2018

Cyber security has become ever more important over the past two years – and for good reason. As our lives become increasingly digitalised, we (unfortunately) open ourselves up to the more nefarious members of the digital ecosystem – who will do their best to use our data against us.

A serious cyber-attack can be devastating, both materially and reputationally. The 2017 WannaCry cyber-attack on the NHS reportedly cost £92m to rectify, with 19,000 appointments cancelled. Sectors previously presumed to be unbreakable have also suffered at the hands of hackers, with banks, social media giants and airlines being left to deal with the reputational damage that these breaches have caused.

With more than reputations at stake, it’s critically important for the UK to take action and develop robust solutions that will keep its citizens and businesses one step ahead. At the same time, there’s a significant economic opportunity that comes with the development of these now essential technologies.

In 2016, the UK government implemented a £1.9 billion National Cyber Security Strategy. This programme was designed to protect the UK in cyberspace and help develop a strong and growing UK cyber security industry – a product of which is Digital Catapult’s Cyber 101 programme. Cyber 101 provides business skills related support to small and medium sized cyber security companies, helping UK entrepreneurs transform the product or service they’ve already developed into a profitable business that helps to grow our economy.

Running since January 2017, we’re now nearly two years through the programme. We’ve met with some brilliant cyber startups from across the UK (126 to be exact), who have shown us some truly incredible ideas and technologies. So far, we have held 19 Business Skills Bootcamps in London, Belfast, Newport, Gloucester, Birmingham and Edinburgh, with a further four Deep Dives, two peer learning group meetings and two Demo Days.

It’s been immensely rewarding to see the tangible results of our support of these companies. Since joining the programme, they’ve raised investment totalling over £20 million and of the 126 companies to be involved, every single one is still operational. The average revenue increase of each company is 300%, demonstrating the huge economic opportunity presented by the sector and business opportunity open to those with the skills to grasp it.

Our Cyber 101 programme has helped its combined cohort to make over 100 customer, investment and partnership introductions. It has also provided these companies with expertise and mentorship from some of the biggest names in industry, from the likes of BAE Systems, Titania, Digital Shadows, Corero, Department for International Trade (DIT), KTN, TechUK, Albion Capital and Mercia Technologies to name just a few.

One Cyber 101 success story is Data Solver, a privacy management solution. By attending one of our Demo Days, Data Solver was able to understand the intricacies of the investment cycle and gain insights on the right investors to be talking to. We also put them in touch with four potential customers, many of which are now currently using the system.

The Cyber 101 programme is scheduled to run through to March 2021, and in this time we hope to support many other companies in becoming the next success story. It’s our ambition to be the first port of call for cyber security startups and scaleups in the UK, helping to bring new and innovative cyber companies into a wider ecosystem of support and opportunities.