GCHQ picks first seven for Cyber Accelerator scheme

Start-up companies to work with intelligence agency on developing national cyber security capacity

Government intelligence agency GCHQ and its partners have selected the first seven start-up companies to take part in the national Cyber Accelerator programme, taking in a spread of technologies in the field.

Lock on computer screenStart-up support company Wayra, part of communications corporation Telefónica and the partner delivering the first stage of the programme, has made the choices public, saying they will be able to develop their ideas in the “best possible environment”.

They will take part in a three-month development programme, working in office space in the new GCHQ Cyber Accelerator with access to its personnel for mentoring, and be placed in contact with a network of investors.

The seven choices are:

  • Countercraft, a counter-intelligence company that protects large organisations with a cyber deception platform, including decoy computers, false data and fake identities.
  • Cyberowl, an early warning system for cyber attacks that includes advanced security analytics and heuristic methods.
  • Cybersmart, a platform for automating implementation, certification and compliance with cyber security standards.
  • FutureScaper, a collective intelligence platform that provides data visualisations to make sense of complex, uncertain or volatile issues.
  • Spherical Defence, a banking API intrusion detection system that uses deep learning to detect hacking attempts by establishing a baseline of normal communication.
  • StatusToday, a platform powered by artificial intelligence to understand human behaviour in the workplace, strengthening security against insider attacks and detecting mistakes.
  • Verimuchme, a digital wallet and exchange platform to secure, verify and re-use personal information using crypto-technology.

The accelerator is being run as part of the new Cheltenham Cyber Innovation Centre to produce the next generation of cyber systems, and is a partnership between GCHQ, Wayra and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Economic value

The investment reflects the aim of the National Cyber Security Strategy, published in August, to strengthen the UK’s capability in the field. It also has an economic purpose; Wayra has highlighted that the country’s cyber security sector is value at £22 billion and accounts for about £2 billion a year in exports.

Chris Ensor, deputy director for cyber security skills and growth at the National Cyber Security Centre said the accelerator will play a role in developing the next generation of security technologies.

Minister of State for Digital and Culture Matt Hancock said: “This is an important step in delivering our National Cyber Security Strategy, and supported by £1.9bn transformative investment in cyber security. Based in Cheltenham, the accelerator will help UK entrepreneurs create cutting edge technology to better protect the nation from cyber attacks and make going online safer for all.”

Image by Blue Coat Photos, CC BY-SA 2.0 through flickr