GCHQ seeks start-ups to counter cyber-attacks



The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), a part of GCHQ, together with Wayra UK, has launched a national call for start-ups to join its accelerator programme to develop the next generation of cyber security solutions.

Intelligence community seeks new start-ups to develop next-gen security products as previous cohorts raise £20m in funding

  • Working collaboratively with Wayra UK and pioneering start-ups has helped Britain’s intelligence community ‘embrace the benefits of open innovation
  • 10 start-ups will gain admission to the NCSC Cyber Accelerator, with exclusive access to experts from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and GCHQ, a £25,000 grant, office space and a 9-month mentorship programm
  • Focus areas for applicants include solutions that detect, respond to and facilitate rapid recoveries from cyber-attacks, keeping users safe online and enhancing security.

Since its launch in 2017, the ‘NCSC Cyber Accelerator’, which is funded by the UK Government Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), has actively mentored and supported the growth of technology start-ups, with previous participants having received in excess of £20million in funding. 

The focus areas for hopeful start-ups include enhancing security, techniques for anticipating the early stages of a cyber attack, enabling action to be taken on real-time threats, vulnerability information and more.

Chris Ensor, NCSC Deputy Director for Skills and Growth, said: “This call will allow us to cast the widest net possible for attracting start-ups developing technologies that will better protect us now and in the future.

“We’ve worked with 23 companies over the past few years, offering them unique technical insights that have helped them grow their ideas and business.”

Based at an undisclosed facility in Cheltenham, the Accelerator has already seen 16 start-ups graduate from the programme which runs for nine months and includes a robust acceleration package including, exclusive access to experts from the NCSC and GCHQ, a £25,000 grant, access to Wayra’s investor network and potential pathway to security experts from Telefónica brands such as O2.

Gary Stewart, Director of Wayra UK and Telefónica Open Future in the UK, said:  “The NCSC Cyber Accelerator, powered by Wayra UK, is representative of how Britain’s intelligence, cyber and security services, have evolved to counter emerging threats by supporting businesses on the frontiers of new tech innovation.”

“With GCHQ celebrating its centenary, we’re proud to be a leading partner in identifying and nurturing the fourth cohort of start-ups that will help keep Britain safe now and for the next 100 years.”

Start-ups have until 23:59 on Sunday April 28 to submit their applications.

Start-up application page  

Wayra UK will be attending Cyber UK in Glasgow between April 24-25, located at stand F13.



Wayra is the most global, connected and technological open innovation hub in the world. Under the Telefónica brand Wayra currently operates in 10 countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Germany, Mexico, Peru, Spain, the United Kingdom and Venezuela.

Our hubs have raised over $248 million through third-party investors for our companies. Our global presence allows us to be at the helm of innovation, shoulder to shoulder with driven entrepreneurs and in a position to engage the right partners, corporate leaders, investors, serial entrepreneurs and leaders of industries for business.

We have been committed partners for seven years and connect innovators with Telefónica and generate joint business opportunities. We offer unparalleled access to Telefónica’s 350 million customers and clients across multiple countries. We are a unique and effective interface between both entrepreneurs and our network of corporates, governments and other partners in the 17 countries in which Telefónica global operates. wayra.co.uk

National Cyber Security Centre

The UK Government is fully committed to defending against cyber threats and address the cyber skills gap to develop and grow talent. The NCSC was created as part of the five year National Cyber Security Strategy (NCSS) announced in 2016, supported by £1.9billion of transformational investment.

The NCSC provides a single, central body for cyber security at a national level and is the UK’s technical authority on cyber. It manages national cyber security incidents, carries out real-time threat analysis and provides tailored sectoral advice.

GCHQ is the parent body for the NCSC, meaning that it can draw on the organisation’s world-class skills and sensitive capabilities.