Plexal and the National Cyber Security Centre are looking for startups that can combat ransomware

From today, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) – a part of GCHQ – and Plexal are calling for startups to join our NCSC For Startups initiative and address the growing challenge of ransomware.

In the first four months of 2021, the NCSC handled the same number of ransomware incidents as the whole of 2020 – which was itself a number more than three times greater than in 2019.  Meanwhile, the NCSC’s recent Annual Review 2021 said ransomware was “the most significant cyber threat facing the UK” and depicted an increasingly complex and global cybercriminal ecosystem that’s using tactics such as Ransomware as a Service.

To keep people and businesses safe online, we want to hear from startups that can:

  • defend SMEs from ransomware
  • help firms use backups to minimise the impact of an attack
  • reduce the risks involved with people using Remote Desktop Protocol while working from home

Details of the challenge and how startups can apply are on the NCSC’s website.

Ransomware challenge for NCSC For Startups

NCSC For Startups: supporting cyber innovators

NCSC For Startups welcomes startups at all stages of maturity, from early-stage innovators developing a minimum viable product to scaleups that want to test their technology. Nine companies went through the programme in 2021 and we’re bringing on startups throughout 2022.

Members get access to support from the NCSC, Plexal’s innovation team, investors and industry leaders to help them develop, adapt and test solutions to national security challenges identified by the NCSC. They can also apply for funding to help them develop their solutions.

Members keep all the intellectual property and equity they create during the programme.

We’re revealing our new ransomware challenge just after the launch of the UK government’s National Cyber Strategy, which will respond to evolving cyber threats like ransomware. 

Plexal’s director of innovation Saj Huq said:

“Ransomware doesn’t just affect large, established companies: there is a growing risk to SMEs that make up the backbone of our economy and anyone who lives and works online are potential victims.   

“This is a unique and game-changing opportunity for startups to work on the biggest cyber threat around alongside experts from the National Cyber Security Centre and industry who are working day in, day out to keep the UK safe – and I hope they respond to this call with a sense of urgency and mission.”  

And Chris Ensor, deputy director for Cyber Growth at the NCSC, said:   

“Ransomware presents the most serious cyber security threat to the UK and it is vital that organisations protect themselves. 

“Our latest NCSC For Startups challenge provides a great opportunity for innovative companies to collaborate with us in the fight against ransomware and strengthen the UK’s defences.”   

For more information, get in touch with our innovation team on