The Technology Strategy Board (TSB), the UK government’s innovation agency, has awarded grants worth almost £400,000 to seven cyber security start-ups located in the Severn Valley – an area which was identified as the most important security hub of the country.
The winners took part in the first Launchpad competition dedicated to the protection of data, which kicked off in November. Some of the previous Launchpad events were focusing on specific regions, like Glasgow, Manchester and London, while others addressed a specific sector of the technology market.
The latest Launchpad, announced in March at CeBIT 2014, is dedicated to the Internet of Things.
The winners of the Severn Valley Cyber Launchpad include PixelPin, a company that is already selling a password security system based on pictures instead of text, and Montvieux, which develops digital watermarking techniques to track sensitive documents and prevent them from being stolen.
“Today countries that can manage cyber security risks have a clear competitive advantage,” said Universities and Science Minister David Willetts. “These innovative companies, backed by Government investment, will ensure the UK has the technology we need to protect our data and take full advantage of this growth industry.”
According to the Department of Business Innovation and Skills, the cyber security market in the UK is currently worth almost £2.8 billion, and is expected to be worth over £3.4 billion by 2017.
Under the terms of the competition, early-stage companies located either side of the river Severn had to submit a funding application outlining their idea, while satisfying a number of requirements. The Launchpad team then assessed and ranked all proposals, with the very best receiving a portion of public money.
However, the government is only providing 60 percent of the necessary funding and the rest has to be invested by the private sector. The seven winners of the competition include D-RisQ, Montvieux, PixelPin, C2B2, Infinite Precision, Babble IT Systems and Westgate Cyber Security.
“We don’t want to let good ideas go to waste, so we’re trying to pick up on those early-stage companies worth investing in,” Andrew Tyrer, head of the Severn Valley Cyber Launchpad, told TechWeekEurope. “If successful, these companies will be employing more people, spending more money on R&D, paying more taxes.”
Besides money, which will be made available over the next 12 to 18 months, each of the winning companies will get access to a business support package which includes training, expert advice and exposure to investors.
The competition highlights the development of the Severn Valley into a cyber security hub of the UK which stretches from Malvern down to Newport, Cardiff and Bristol, and includes Cheltenham – the home of GCHQ. According to TSB, 14 percent of the UK’s cyber security companies are located within this area.
“What we are trying to do is make this cluster a bigger place, attract more investment into a wider area,” said Tyrer.
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