Delivering innovation for bright companies and local authorities in the year since DSIT launched

Today, Wednesday 7th February 2024, is a significant date on the government calendar, marking one year since the official launch of the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT).

Aligned with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s mission to create an “innovative economy,” the arrival of DSIT saw the Rt Hon Michelle Donelan named Science, Innovation and Technology Secretary, overseeing the department’s goal to “ensure the UK is the most innovative economy in the world and a science and technology superpower.”

At the time in February 2023, the DSIT Secretary, said: “Science and technology has the potential to change our world beyond recognition and improve all our lives. A brand new and dedicated department for Science, Innovation and Technology is key to the Government’s plan to grow the economy – generating better, well paid jobs and driving improvements in health, education and transportation.”

We’re pleased to have partnered with DSIT and worked towards creating new opportunities through innovation initiatives over the past 12 months, including:

Cyber Runway

Cyber Runway is a growth platform for UK startups, helping them to Launch, Grow, Scale and Ignite their companies, which Plexal designed to address major challenges facing the UK’s cyber sector. These include everything from increasing entrepreneurial representation within the innovation ecosystem to navigating the economic climate to creating greater connectivity between regional, national and international networks – fully realising the potential for all UK cyber startups.

We’re pleased to have worked with DSIT on the third Cyber Runway programme over the past year. And from running a Launch bootcamp to beginning our Grow and Scale streams to inducting a high-potential group of diverse leaders, we’ve welcomed over 70 companies into the Cyber Runway community. Supporting businesses developing cyber technologies that span Internet of Things, semiconductors, secure cloud, identity tools and beyond, we’re working together to break down barriers for success.

Secure Connected Places

In mid 2023, we revealed the results of our work with DSIT on the Secured Connected Places research project. It was developed in recognition the array of sensors, hardware, networks and applications used for connected places, which allow local authorities to leverage insights and improve services from transport to utilities, can be at risk of cyber attacks if the relevant security isn’t harnessed.

We worked with local authorities across locations, technical maturities and sizes to respond to their connected places-linked security challenges. And this resulted in the Secure Connected Places Playbook, a set of practical and accessible resources that support the cyber security of connected places. Our work continued as Plexal and DSIT began work on a beta phase of the project, conducting more in-depth testing on the alpha Playbook with a larger cohort of local authorities.

Fast forward to January 2024 and Michelle Donelan MP was present at Plexal’s Stratford workspace where she delivered a Scaleup Speech that noted: “Now the UK is delivering on its commitment to become a Science and Tech superpower by 2030 and I believe there has never been a better time to be a science and tech entrepreneur wanting to scaleup across the UK and beyond.“ 

The DSIT Secretary revealed priorities including the creation of a scaleup forum, a scaleup support service, pitching and investment opportunities and more. This was complemented with the revelation of figures including:

  • Our tech sector is worth over $1tn – by far the largest in Europe.   
  • 1.8 million people are employed in startups – triple the number in 2018.  
  • The most venture capital investment into tech in Europe. 
  • The most investment in university spinouts in Europe. 
  • The most unicorns in Europe. 

As we move into the second year of DSIT’s mission, Plexal CEO Andrew Roughan says: “Plexal’s mission is all about delivering government-led innovation. When the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology was created 12 months ago to this day, we were so delighted to have a clear science and technology policy agenda focused on engineering biology, the future of telecoms, artificial intelligence, semiconductors and quantum.

“What that has enabled us to do is continue our efforts in delivering major government innovation programmes such as Cyber Runway, helping the brightest companies in the UK grow their cyber products and sell them into industry and into government, and Secure Connected Places, helping local authorities secure their smart city solutions they’ve been building.

“We’re delighted to say congratulations to the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, we look forward to working for you in the next few years and delivering the UK’s successful innovation economy.”