London innovation hub Plexal has opened applications for cyber security startups to join the first cohort of Greater Manchester’s Digital Security Hub (DiSH) accelerator, which is designed to support the growth of early stage startups throughout the North West.
Launched in June 2022, DiSH itself is run by a consortium consisting of Barclays Eagle Labs, Lancaster University, University of Manchester and Plexal, with the overall aim being to support 500 startups and create more than 1,000 jobs in Greater Manchester’s digital security ecosystem.
The DiSH accelerator – which is designed to help seed- and pre-seed-level startups commercialise and scale their offerings – opened for applications on 16 August, with startups having until 11 September to apply. Beginning 24 October, the accelerator programme will last for three months.
Support the startups will receive includes free access to DiSH workspaces; investment and funding assistance; pitch coaching; 1:1 mentoring; and networking opportunities, including introductions to industry figures.
Plexal and its partners have also said they will take no intellectual property or equity from any of the startups involved, and that there is no fee required to take part.
“We’re thrilled to be the innovation partner to the DiSH and are excited by the opportunity to design and deliver the first DiSH Accelerator targeted at supporting innovative, early stage startups,” said Saj Huq, chief commercial officer and head of innovation at Plexal.
“Greater Manchester and the North West has a fast-growing cyber scene, and there are increasing opportunities for the regional startup ecosystem to engage and collaborate with an array of potential customers and partners as they scale their propositions and build market share. The DiSH Accelerator promises to act as a catalyst for that opportunity and we encourage ambitious startups to apply.”
Greater Manchester, which was highlighted in the government’s levelling up whitepaper as being a key region for further investment and economic growth, is already home to several tech unicorns (companies valued at $1bn), as well as UK signal intelligence agency GCHQ.
The cyber divisions of several arms companies – including BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon – are also located in the area.
“We know from experience that access to accelerator programmes with mentoring and support is hugely beneficial to the growth of an early stage business,” said David Bleakman, cyber security lead at Barclays Eagle Labs.
“Connecting with like-minded entrepreneurs, universities and industry bodies, as well as potential clients and investors, helps to build networks and stimulate growth.
“This is why we want to encourage digital security and cyber startups across the region to join us on the DiSH accelerator, to help boost their growth and unlock their potential.”
Plexal separately works with the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) to help run their joint NCSC for Startups initiative, which is specifically designed to help the UK government rapidly expand its cyber security capabilities. NCSC is part of GCHQ.
In May 2022, the NCSC chose five startups to help address the persistent threat of ransomware attacks, which became increasingly frequent and sophisticated throughout 2021.