Take off: introducing Cyber Runway

The DCMS-backed programme will support the growth of 160 cyber entrepreneurs, startups, SMEs and scaleups.

Cyber Runway will directly address the challenges facing the sector, including diversity, regional representation and support for early-stage companies.

The goal is for 30% of cyber companies involved to be female-led businesses and at least 15% of founders coming from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.

Cyber Runway is a national initiative and 50% of all companies will be based outside of London.

Plexal has launched Cyber Runway to accelerate the growth of at least 160 cyber entrepreneurs, startups, SMEs and scaleups across the UK.

Backed by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Cyber Runway will be delivered by Plexal in partnership with CyLon, Deloitte and The Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT).

It will replace and consolidate three DCMS-funded programmes: HutZero, Cyber 101 and Tech Nation’s Cyber Accelerator.

At least 160 companies will benefit from the accelerator over six months across three streams based on the growth stage of the business:

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

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

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

How can you get involved?

Companies are now able to submit interest at plexal.com/cyber-runway.

We’re also keen to hear from investors, potential mentors and organisations that can help us design and deliver an inclusive programme. If you’ve got any questions, contact us on cyberrunway@plexal.com

Member benefits

Our innovators will get:

  • business masterclasses (both virtual and in person)
  • mentoring, engineering support from CSIT and access to CSIT’s data and testing centre
  • technical product development support
  • investor roadshows and the opportunity to pitch to investors

Support will be tailored to the growth stage of members to create a joined-up support system for cyber innovators in the UK.

Supporting startups across the UK

Cyber Runway will reach tech hubs across the UK and Ireland, including Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and the North East, North West and South West of England.

We’ll work with local partners in cyber hubs like Cheltenham, Manchester, Belfast, Cardiff, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The accelerator will be delivered in person and virtually so startups across the UK can benefit and the goal is that at least 50% of all member companies will be based outside of London.

Designing for inclusion

Cyber Runway will help address the lack of diversity in the cybersecurity sector. We’re aiming for 30% of cyber companies involved to be female-led businesses and at least 15% of founders to be from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.

The accelerator will support innovators from a range of backgrounds by making sure inclusivity is at the heart of its design.

We will:

  • work with specialist groups that support underrepresented communities, including Seidea, WyCis, NeuroCyber and Specialisterne on the design and delivery of the programme
  • establish diverse founder, investor and industry forums
  • educate members on the importance of building diverse teams, tackling unconscious bias in recruitment and talent development and retention of under-represented groups
  • bring on mentors from a variety of backgrounds, including women, people living with disabilities, ethnic minorities, neurodiverse mentors and people from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds

Minister for Digital Infrastructure Matt Warman said: 

“The UK’s cyber sector is booming and we’re working tirelessly to ensure the benefits are felt by businesses and individuals right across the country. 

“Our new Cyber Runway programme will help tackle barriers to growth, increase investment and give firms vital support to take their businesses to the next level.”

Saj Huq, director of innovation at Plexal, said:

“COVID-19 has catalysed the need for effective cybersecurity across industries, and a record level of capital is being invested into the sector. But there is still a need for support for businesses at the earliest stages of their development and innovators and entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities still face barriers when entering the ecosystem.

“These are challenges we look forward to addressing with Cyber Runway by supporting the best innovators, regardless of their background or geography, to thrive and grow.”

How Plexal is supporting cyber startup innovation

We’re on a mission to connect the UK’s cyber ecosystem and our network spans startups, scaleups, investors, academia, the government and large enterprises.

We’ve delivered LORCA (the London Office for Rapid Cybersecurity Advancement) for the last three years and we’re 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 startups to the UK government.