Reflections from the newest NCSC For Startups alumni members 

Plexal’s work with the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) includes delivery of the NCSC For Startups programme, on which we work with early-stage companies to help them develop their solutions, adapt their current technology to a new cyber challenge and pilot solutions.

Leaders on NCSC For Startups benefit from support with investment, marketing, connections to private sector opportunities and product development.

With a new year and new programmes ahead of us, we’ve gathered some reflections from those we’ve supported – who will continue to be part of the UK’s most connected cyber ecosystem Plexal’s continuing to build.

Having closed 2022 as part of the most recent NCSC For Startups intake and entered 2023 among the alumni of more than 60 companies, we caught up with the latest graduate founders we’ve worked with alongside NCSC to find out how the programme helped them and what they expect in the months to come.

Tim Ward, CEO and founder at ThinkCyber, which helps change people’s behaviour so they can better protect themselves against cyber threats:

“Completing the NCSC for Startups programme topped off what was a fantastic year for ThinkCyber, in which we doubled our number of clients, demonstrating real and ongoing product-market fit. The programme served as a great opportunity to take stock, review and strengthen the foundations of our business before launching further into scaling in 2023.

“It very much feels like the beginning of a journey, building on our newfound relationships inside NCSC to tackle the engagement challenge that we hear about so often when speaking to organisations. We go into 2023 with a very strong belief that we’re very much ‘on the right track’ with our unique Redflags Real-time Awareness offering!”

Brian Deane and Carly Barnes, co-founders at PSM Cyber, which equips sports professionals and members of the armed forces with digital skills to help bridge the cyber skills gap:

“One of the main positives was being able to take a holistic view of the business with experts and finding ways to make it more robust and resilient. It’s not always easy to swallow but very helpful.

“This was only possible because of the first-class support that has been assembled and on hand to take part in the programme. Having access to this support and network is going to be intrinsically important for us as a business moving forward.

“It’s an excellent programme and we were delighted to participate and gained lots of valuable insights in relation to the cyber security world and also received really great help developing our business. We met invaluable contacts who will hopefully prove to be pivotal in the development of our company. We’re really happy to be continuing our relationship with the NCSC and Plexal and to have been invited to continue our development in 2023 with them both.”
Dr Franck Courbon, CEO and founder at Ethicronics, a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution that addresses hacked, counterfeit, or recycled electronics:

“The NCSC For Startups programme has enabled Ethicronics to first validate its hardware assurance and integrity approach to contribute answering the NCSC challenge of operation technology cyber security. Ethicronics has gained commercial insights, technical feedback and unique partnerships thanks to the programme. 

“It was an eye-opening and unique opportunity for us in 2022 and it enables us, as alumni, to still be supported in 2023 and beyond. An important stepping-stone for Ethicronics – thanks again to everyone involved.”

Ali Yisa, co-founder at Fezzant, which creates immersive, diverse and inclusive experiences to educate people about cyber security:

“Summing up the experience, NCSC For Startups gave us all the tools, mentorship and opportunities for Fezzant’s next big phase. There was a lot of focus on research last year, and while research never stops, this year, our focus will be on building innovations to fuel our progress to the next level. We will also focus on partnerships with other organisations who share our vision. It really feels like the journey is getting a fresh start!” 

Ben Graville, founder, Visible, a startup empowering people to see their digital-self, control the underlying data and change how others perceive them: 

“It’s hard to think that NCSC For Startups was only a 12-week programme because, somehow, we managed to get so much done!  

“We tested our ideas, assumptions and stamina and came out of the end of it more confident and with greater clarity on what we need to focus on in 2023. The programme works as a catalyst and it’s clear that you get out what you put in. We’ll be staying in touch with everyone and looking forward to the alumni events through the year.”