Robust cyber security is now more critical than ever. Programmes like CyberASAP help ensure a pipeline of innovation.

Posted on: 21/04/2020

CyberASAP – Cyber Security Academic Start-up Accelerator programme – gets underway for Year 4.



“The UK is one of the world’s leading digital nations, home to exceptional talent, cutting-edge innovation and rapid growth” according to The Rt Hon Matt Warman MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Minister for Digital and Broadband in his foreword to the recently published UK Cyber Security Sectoral Analysis 2020 Report.


And that talent needs support to flourish. That is why the UK government Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) funds programmes like CyberASAP, the only pre-seed cyber academic accelerator programme, delivered through Innovate UK and KTN, which helps to commercialise academic cyber security ideas.


There has never been a time where cyber security is more critical, touching every sector of the economy and the way we live our lives. The economic value of the sector is considerable too: according to the above report, it has now reached £8.3bn.


“With more of us required to interact online during the current crisis, the spotlight is firmly on the need for robust and comprehensive digital security. Many of those needs could be met by ideas born in academic research departments across the country, and CyberASAP helps take those ideas from lab to market”, commented Robin Kennedy, co-director of the programme at KTN.


The fourth year of the programme got underway this month, with 28 university teams participating in an introductory bootcamp: the first stage in their journey to develop a route to market for their early stage cyber security offerings.


Conducted online for the first time, the initial Bootcamp laid out a framework from which teams can develop their plans for a Minimum Viable Product. Emma Fadlon, co-director at KTN with Robin Kennedy, led teams through the first critical stage: Developing a Value Proposition, which Emma described as being “what value you offer your customer at what relative price”. This key stage in a product’s lifecycle broadly seeks to:

  • Scope the market for a product; the channels and supply chain characteristics (the value chain)
  • Profile the target audience, its needs and how the product addresses these needs
  • Identify the team for developing the offering and taking it to market.


In exploring tools and ideas around developing the Value Proposition, Emma also stressed the importance of looking at your product from a customer and investors’ point of view, particularly as regards product differentiation and scalability.


Providing teams with a range of tools and insights, the Bootcamp featured a session from KTN’s Jake Larsson who introduced teams to the Innovation Canvas Рa useful framework designed to support and accelerate decision making and project planning.


Intellectual Property (IP) is a key consideration when developing a new product and, with 70-80% of most company’s market capitalisation coming from intangible assets, the talk by Colin Paterson, Senior Associate at specialist IP firm, Keltie LLP, provided an essential overview on IP with specific insights for this sector.


From KTN’s Access to Funding and Finance Team, Charlotte Thompson provided some useful suggestions for conducting Market Research and Validation, including using tools such as PESTLE Analysis (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal, Environmental). “Market research and validation should be a continuous process” she said “reviewed throughout the product journey, as the market is a dynamic landscape where opportunities and needs may change”. Staying tuned in to this is vital.


Finally, a word from a couple of the teams who participated:

“Our team greatly appreciated the Bootcamp. The methodology of the Value Proposition concept provides a clear structure for a way forward. Some of these ideas might in some way appear to be self-evident but from experience, many aspects are often not included, the survey of competitors and protection of IP being two prime examples. We believe that the team can now fulfil these requirements and has been given confidence and inspiration by attending the Bootcamp.
Many thanks for the valuable information and the well presented and organised online Bootcamp”.

Cher Devey, The CyberASAP Team at City, University of London


“I was already impressed with this programme when I got an opportunity to attend the Demo day with the last year (2019-2020) Cohort. True to what they do, the team provided some excellent guidance to the cohort this year on how to progress with our innovative ideas. The two day webinar instead of the usual face-to-face had its limitations, but every single presentation was adding so much value to our cause that it kept me glued to my laptop.  The effort made to help us succeed is quite commendable. The expertise available with this team is worth tapping into even if you yourself are an expert”.

Meha Shukla, PhD Candidate, Physical & Cyber security of smart street infrastructure, Department of Security and Crime Science and Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering, University College London, UK.


The next stage of the programme requires the teams to present brief outlines of their Value Propositions to an invited panel of experts for feedback.


Find out more about being involved in CyberASAP here.



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