Early-stage cyber security and digital startups can now apply for the new digital security accelerator programme from Greater Manchester’s Digital Security Hub (DiSH).

DiSH is being delivered by Barclays Eagle Labs, Lancaster University, University of Manchester and Plexal with support from Manchester City Council. It was first launched in June 2022 with the aim of supporting 500 start-ups and creating over 1,000 jobs in Greater Manchester.

The next accelerator scheme will begin on 24 October and will be delivered by Plexal. The three-month DiSH Accelerator will give digital security and cyber businesses from Greater Manchester access to mentors, coaching, events, industry connections and support to help them grow their early-stage businesses.

Applicants will be able to work from the 11,000-square-foot DiSH workspace in Manchester and will benefit from investment readiness and funding support, business masterclasses, 1:1 mentoring, pitch coaching, industry introductions and events with networking opportunities

According to the government’s latest Sectoral Analysis of the UK’s cyber sector, more than 1,800 cyber security firms generated a total of £10.1bn in revenue in the most recent financial year. This is a 14% increase from the previous financial year.

Cyber also contributed around £5.3bn to the UK economy in 2021, rising by a third from the previous year from £4bn – the largest increase since the report began in 2018.

Greater Manchester is already home to several tech unicorns as well as GCHQ’s offices. The city-region has a burgeoning cyber security sector and is the fastest-growing tech city in Europe.

Greater Manchester’s homegrown digital security companies include Avecto, Hedgehog, NCC Group and Secarma, and it’s also attracted cyber divisions of companies such as Raytheon, BAE Systems AI and Northrop Grumman.

Saj Huq, CCO and head of innovation at Plexal, says: “We’re thrilled to be the innovation partner to the DiSH and are excited by the opportunity to design and deliver the first DiSH Accelerator targeted at supporting innovative, early-stage startups. Greater Manchester has a fast-growing cyber scene, and there are increasing opportunities for the regional startup ecosystem to engage and collaborate with an array of potential customers and partners as they scale their propositions and build market share.

“The DiSH Accelerator promises to act as a catalyst for that opportunity and we encourage ambitious startups to apply.”

David Bleakman, Barclays Eagle Labs Cyber Security Lead, says: “We know from experience that access to accelerator programmes with mentoring and support is hugely beneficial to the growth of an early-stage business. Connecting with like-minded entrepreneurs, universities and industry bodies, as well as potential clients and investors, helps to build networks and stimulate growth.

“This is why we want to encourage digital security and cyber startups across the region to join us on the DiSH accelerator, to help boost their growth and unlock their potential.”