RSA 2023: Inside our San Francisco trade mission with NCSC For Startups 

As event topics go, the 2023 theme of RSA – “stronger together” – really couldn’t have fit Plexal any better, so inevitably we were like a moth to a flame when it came to securing our place.

And, true to the focus of this year’s San Francisco conference, we had no intention of flying solo.

We’re the innovation partner to the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) delivering the NCSC For Startups programme, which is developed in line with the NCSC’s mission to make the UK the safest place to live and work online. NCSC For Startups specifically provides companies on the programme with technical expertise, insights and guidance, helping them develop their business, enhance solutions, adapt their current technology and generate ideas to meet the biggest cyber security challenges facing the UK.

Therefore, both the NCSC and we at Plexal knew how much value could be derived from attending RSA and set about developing a trade mission that saw us travel to the US alongside founders from our community of NCSC For Startups alumni, including:

The trade mission itself was key because one thing we pride ourselves on is that those who graduate from the programme go on to join the NCSC For Startups alumni, a cyber community that continues to engage and interact with one another long after graduation.

With that in mind, the purpose of our trip was to build relationships between alumni, help identify product-market fit, tap into new business opportunities and expand the network for collaborative opportunities that would help with closing the gap between UK and US security efforts. 

Here’s what some of our NCSC For Startups trade mission delegates said about RSA. 

Pete Davies, director at Cyber Defence Service, says: “Attending the RSA 2023 event in San Francisco was an incredible experience. The entire event was filled with informative sessions, inspiring speakers, amazing networking opportunities, and not to mention an awesome cohort of inspiring businesses. I was particularly impressed by the level of thought leadership and industry insight that was shared by the keynote speakers and the NCSC-organised sidetrack events.

“I was also able to connect with many industry experts, learn about the latest technologies, and get valuable advice from the panel discussions. I came away from the event with a greater understanding of the cyber security landscape and the importance of keeping up with the latest developments. 

“I am now more confident in my ability to protect my organisation and its customers from cyber threats, and I am excited to apply the knowledge I gained to future projects.”

Nadia Khadim, CEO at Naq, says: “Being part of the NCSC delegation to San Francisco was an amazing experience for Naq and me as CEO. Being part of the NCSC For Startups delegation opened so many doors to conversations with CISOs of potential partners, government officials and Silicon Valley investors and we’ll ensure that we reap the rewards in the weeks to come.”

Ryan Heartfield, CTO and co-founder at Exalens, says: “The RSA trip was an eye-opening experience where it became clear very early for us that what really defines RSA is not just a cyber security exhibition. But almost a festival of sorts that includes a plethora of open and inclusive business events and networking opportunities in and around the exhibition that follow and are directly generated because of the event.

“The Plexal and NCSC delegation of NCSC For Startups graduates, including myself, harnessed this opportunity to its full extent, such that we were provided with a rich exposure to the startup ecosystem in and around RSA. 

“A particular highlight for me was the visit to the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) arranged by Plexal, which revealed an existing and innovative interface for cyber security startups to directly engage with the Department of Defence as a potential vendor/technology provider for US government national security requirements.”

“We would certainly return next year, and hope to link up with the next delegation to grow our US exposure, build further networking and collaboration opportunities for prospective partners and customers.” 

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