CyberASAP Alumnus, MaCRA, scoops top prize in the CyberDen at CYBERUK, the UK government’s flagship cyber security event

Posted on: 19/05/2021
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Maritime cyber security innovation gets the Dragons’ vote. MaCRA, a graduate from the Cybersecurity Academic Startup Accelerator Programme (CyberASAP) in 2020/21 has won the top prize in the Cyber Den at this year's CYBERUK 2021.

Addressing maritime cyber threat, MaCRA – developed by the University of Plymouth Maritime Cyber Threats Research Group – impressed the Dragons with its unique approach to helping mitigate the growing vulnerabilities faced by the global fleet, responsible for 90% of world trade.

Attended by Home Secretary, Rt Hon Priti Patel MP and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab MP, CYBERUK’s Cyber Den offered promising cyber security companies the chance to pitch to Dragons, with one winner chosen from the shortlisted projects. Eight of those selected to appear in the Den were graduates of CyberASAP, which is delivered by KTN in partnership with Innovate UK.

The winner, MaCRA, will receive assistance from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) in assessing, developing and piloting their software.

Commenting on their win  – announced by Lindy Cameron, Director of NCSC – Dr Kimberly Tam, Lecturer in Cyber Security at the University of Plymouth and academic lead on the MaCRA project, said:

“We are thrilled with the opportunities our win in the Cyber Den will bring as we finesse MaCRA’s adaptive maritime cyber risk assessment capabilities. We are also grateful to the CyberASAP team for equipping us and other great teams to deliver Dragons’ Den-style pitches, and to the judges, especially for the most valuable aspect of our win: a year’s mentoring with NCSC experts.”

Kevin Forshaw, the University’s Director of Industrial and Strategic Partnerships, added: “I am delighted that the judges recognised the value of our unique approach, and the very pressing need to start taking action on maritime cyber risk. We very much look forward to the support from the NCSC as we continue to develop the software over the coming months.”

MaCRA offers dynamic assessment of maritime cyber threat, for both individual vessel operators and organisations. It provides operational-specific, multi-dimensional risk assessment tooling which addresses both IT and OT elements of a specific vessel system, factoring in threat associated with both the cargo transported, and the route operated.

With over 180,000 vessels registered in the global fleet, mandated risk assessment now enforced by the International Maritime Organization, and costly cyber-attacks on shipping increasingly exponentially, MaCRA provides both a timely solution and a very valuable commercial opportunity, according to Forshaw.

You can see MaCRA in action at the recent CyberASAP Demo Day – here’s their pitch – and their demonstrator video is here.

CyberASAP provides a comprehensive package of commercialisation support for academics looking to translate their research into marketable products and services. Led by KTN’s Emma Fadlon and Robin Kennedy, the programme is now in its fifth year and has resulted in the formation of 20 new cyber security companies who between them have raised more than £8million in further funding.

Robin Kennedy said “It’s so gratifying to see MaCRA progress since starting CyberASAP in March 2020, and their success in the Den. Selection for CyberASAP suggests the academic research has real potential; and the programme helps develop not just the idea but also the commercial skills needed for it to have a chance of adoption as part of the UK’s approach to developing a robust cybersecurity ecosystem. It’s fantastic to see such a positive outcome”.

CyberASAP was well represented at the CyberDen with a total of eight projects selected to pitch. In addition to the winner, the following projects were also invited to appear before the Dragons, with Seclea (an innovative SaaS platform for AI risk management) being one of just three projects given a Notable Mention by the judges:

Botprobe (Year 1)

Seclea (Year 3)


Verifiable Credentials (Year 3)

CyberMind (Year 4)

Lupovis (Year 4)

MemCrypt (Year 4)

Find out more about CyberASAP and the 23 cyber security academic teams currently participating in the programme here.

If you’d like to be involved or support CyberASAP in any way please complete the form here.


CyberASAP is funded by the UK Government Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and delivered in partnership by KTN and Innovate UK.

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