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CyberASAP Alumni - Where are they now?

Posted on 14/08/2019

CyberASAP Alumni update on their progress: start up to scale up?

The recent CyberASAP Alumni Conference at Level39 Canary Wharf provided a fitting vantage point to assess the unique challenges and opportunities the CyberASAP* teams face in commercialising their academic ideas for cyber security products and services. It was also a unique chance to spotlight the progress of teams from the first two years of the programme.

Updates from 20 teams who have graduated from CyberASAP helped inspire and inform the current cohort about the experience of spinning out their ideas into viable products and services. Recurring themes from the day included the management of Intellectual Property Rights in achieving successful spin out of the university; and the vital importance of having a strategy to manage one’s exit from the academic into the commercial environment.

 

Emma Fadlon, who co-leads the programme with Robin Kennedy, stressed how crucial getting these key requirements right can be: “Turning a brilliant academic idea into a successful commercial product requires careful planning and, often, a different way of thinking. Add to that essential practical issues around defining and building a commercially viable MVP and you have some real challenges – ones which we aim to address and help overcome with the CyberASAP programme”.

 

In tracking and sharing the journey from spin-out to scale-up, the CyberASAP Alumni provided valuable insights into major milestones and project considerations, as well as framing expectations for what this year’s cohort can expect on the road ahead. Here we take a look at the achievements of a couple of the start-up teams from 2017 and 2018 – a snapshot of all the Alumni projects from the programme to date is here.

 

First year graduate, GraphicsFuzz, originating at Imperial College, provides security and reliability testing for Graphics Processors (GPUs) which are shipped in every desktop, laptop, smartphone, and will be a critical component in self-driving cars.

  • Acquired by Google in August 2018 on the basis of the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) developed as part of CyberASAP.

  • The skills and capabilities have remained in the UK (the founders continue to work on the project as part of Google’s London-based development team).

  • The software itself has also now been released as open source.

 

Another Alumnus from the first year, Awen Collective Ltd – spun out of the University of South Wales – is an award-winning software company, which reduces the cost of cyber-threats to critical national infrastructure and advanced manufacturing through digital forensics and incident response software.

  • Crowned Cyber Den Champions in 2018 at NCSC’s CyberUK conference & exhibition.

  • Received £50K funding from IoT Accelerator Wales in April 2018 to develop their industrial digital forensics solutions.

  • Recently joined Tech Nation Cyber to scale-up their business.

  • Received SEIS Seed investment from StartupFundingClub in April 2019.

  • Number of Employees: 5 and recruiting for 1 more.

 

A 2018 Alumnus, and with a University spin-out under discussion (likely jointly by Newcastle and Warwick), SEEV (Self-enforcing e-voting), provides verifiable e-voting for real-world elections and, as per this BBC story, its first Minimum Viable Product (MPV) was successfully trialled at Gateshead during the last local election.

  • Developed two MVPs under CyberASAP.

  • Second MVP (online shareholder voting) demonstrated to several companies.

  • At least one company has expressed interest to buy shareholder voting product.

  • Forming a joint venture with subcontractor to support further development and maintenance support.

 

A start-up from the University of Bristol KETS Quantum Security provides future-proof communications security for devices and networks, powered by quantum security on chip. The company now employs 9 people, and is currently recruiting a further 3 staff.

  • Named  the “UK’s most innovative small cyber security company 2018” at Information Security Europe 2018.

  • Raised £2 million investment (publicly funded projects and a seed equity round) to further develop technologies for quantum-secured communications which will improve the secure transmission of information such as banking details and medical records.

  • In 2017 was one of three start-ups to join Facebook & BT’s TIP Ecosystem Acceleration Centre (TEAC) in the UK.

 

At this, the first ever CyberASAP Alumni Conference, the value of the programme in helping support and accelerate a cyber-security idea’s journey into the commercial landscape came into clear focus. From Bootcamps to MVP development, CyberASAP is designed to provide a comprehensive range of expertise, support and networking to foster start-up to scale-up progression.

 

Register your interest and find out more about the CyberASAP programme here

 

* CyberASAP exists to help provide university teams with the necessary expertise and support to convert their academic ideas into commercial products and services in the cyber security landscape. Funded by the UK Government Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in partnership with Innovate UK and the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), CyberASAP is now in its third year.