London’s first cyber security accelerator Cylon opens its doors

The Cylon cyber security accelerator officially opened its doors in Hammersmith last week, with six startups ready to be accelerated, plus two more established companies taking part in the 14-week programme.

Cylon received more than 100 applicants, with half of those applying from outside the UK. The ideas being worked on over the 14 weeks include: mobile biometrics, workplace BYOD, machine learning and secure router technology.

The first cohort are being looked after by accelerator veterans Paul Smith and Jon Bradford, via a partnership with their startup programme Ignite, plus defence experts Raytheon, and law firms Fried Frank and Freshfields. There are no female founders among the group, something the team is keen to work on for next time.

Cylon takes no equity in the participating companies and each founder gets a £5,000 stipend to cover their costs while working on their business idea. After the 14-week period, the teams are able to stay on for a further three months at the accelerator’s permanent, 4,000 sq ft Hammersmith base, donated by one of its partners, Winton Capital.

Jonathan Luff, former foreign policy adviser to David Cameron and cofounder of Cylon, said: “We don’t think this is niche area. We just don’t think it’s coherent to have a well functioning digital economy unless you have strategic, sophisticated and comprehensive cyber security platforms. Given the wider economy that cyber security supports, we can only expect this sector to grow.

“The UK is a global superpower, there’s no question, but that’s one of the reasons we think it’s vital to do this now and do it here. There are challenges from countries like Russia and China, but we will succeed if we focus on cyber as a growth sector for the UK.”

The team is hopeful that after the election, the new government will allocate further resources to support the public and private cyber security initiatives.