Funding competition Cyber security academic start-up accelerator programme year 3 phase 1

Individuals based in a UK academic institution can apply for a share of £800,000 to join the cyber security academic startup accelerator programme (CyberASAP).

This competition is now closed.

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Competition sections


Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will work in partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to invest up to £800,000 in innovative cyber security ideas coming from the academic research base.

The aim of this competition is to identify the best commercial opportunities in academia in respect to cyber security. Your proposal should include the area of your research, the problem that you are solving and your proposed solution.

You must be based in a UK academic institution, have a cyber security idea and be interested in commercialising it.

This is phase 1 of a 1-year programme and will last up to 4 months. Successful applicants will take part in a 2-month building value proposition activity, then present to an independent judging panel. The panel will decide which teams can continue to a 2-month market validation activity.

Phase 1 is to determine the value of the idea and, if appropriate, to identify the best commercial route to progress. The programme will be supported by industry experts, including those from cyber security.

Successful applicants will be invited to apply for phase 2 to build a minimal viable product.

Funding type


Project size

Your project’s total eligible costs must be between £5,000 and £32,000.

Who can apply

State aid

Phase 2 of this award will be given on a non-State aid basis. Successful applicants applying into phase 2, for the purposes of the project activity funded by this award, should not and must not act as an undertaking for the purpose of deriving commercial or economic advantage.

Your project

Your project must start on 1 April 2019.

If your project’s total costs or duration fall outside of our eligibility criteria, contact us at least 10 days before you apply. We will decide whether to approve your request.

Lead applicant

To be eligible for funding you must:

  • be based in a UK academic institution
  • have a cyber security idea
  • be interested in the commercialisation of your idea
  • have the support of your academic institution’s technology transfer office, or equivalent

Your academic institution can collaborate with other academic institutions. Collaborators can claim funding.

All individuals based in a UK academic institution are eligible, including but not limited to early career researchers and senior academic researchers.

The grant will be paid to the academic institutions at the end of each activity.

Building value proposition and market validation activities

Applicants must be dedicated to the project for the 2-month building value proposition activity from 1 April 2019. If we decide you can continue to the market validation activity you must be dedicated for the additional 2 months until the end of July 2019.

To participate in and complete the initial 2-month programme, successful applicants must attend 3 events in London. The planned dates are:

  • 2 to 3 April: 2 day boot camp.
  • 30 April to 1 May: 2 day mid-programme review.
  • 30 or 31 May: one day pitch to selection panel.

To participate in and complete the additional 2 months for market validation, applicants recommended by the selection panel must attend 4 events in London. The planned dates are:

  • 4 to 6 June: Infosecurity Europe exhibition, you must attend a minimum of one day.
  • 10 to 11 June: 2 day boot camp.
  • 3 to 5 July: 3 day mid-programme review.
  • 25 or 26 July: one day pitch to selection panel.

These events will be organised by the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN). Successful applicants will be contacted by KTN with full details on the programme, including definite dates.

Applicants with ideas that demonstrate the most potential for commercialisation will be invited to participate in phase 2, where funding is available to build a minimum viable product.

Multiple applications

You can submit more than one application however only one will receive funding.

Previous applications


If Innovate UK judges that your proposal is not materially different from your previous proposal, it will be classed as a resubmission.

If we decide not to fund your proposal, you will be able to use it to apply once more.

Your resubmission can:

  • take into account the feedback received from the assessors
  • be for a future round of this competition or for another competition


DCMS has allocated up to £800,000 to fund cyber security ideas through this competition.

We are looking to fund up to 25 applications.

Applicants can apply for funding for up to 100% of their eligible project costs. This can only include salary, travel and subsistence.

No more than £16,000 can be allocated to the initial 2 months of the programme.

Your proposal

The aim of this competition is to identify the best commercial opportunities in academia in respect to cyber security. Your proposal must include:

  • the area of your research
  • the problem you are solving
  • your proposed solution
  • your initial market validation plan

We will only fund projects that:

  • are cyber security focused
  • have a clear intention to commercialise
  • are UK based
  • have the support of your academic institution to commercialise

We define ‘cyber security’ to mean protecting information systems (hardware, software and associated infrastructure), the data on them, and the services they provide, from unauthorised access, harm or misuse.

This includes harm caused intentionally by the operator of the system, or accidentally, as a result of failing to follow security procedures.

The grant can be used to fund salary, travel and accommodation expenses for the individual that will take part in the programme.

Research categories

We will fund feasibility projects, industrial research projects and experimental development projects. Please see the general guidance to help you decide which category your project fits in.

Projects we will not fund

We will not fund projects that:

  • cover areas not related to cyber security
  • come from outside UK academic institutions
  • have no intention to commercialise
  • have an academic lead that has already participated in the previous CyberASAP programme

11 February 2019
Competition opens
13 February 2019
Watch the briefing event
6 March 2019 12:00pm
Competition closes
14 March 2019 4:37pm
Applicants notified

Before you start

Please read the general guidance for applicants. It will help your chances of submitting a quality application.

When you start an application you will be prompted to create an account as the lead applicant or sign in as a representative of your organisation. You will need an account to track the progress of your application.

You will be responsible for:

  • collecting the information for your application
  • representing your organisation in leading the project if your application is successful

You will be able to invite colleagues to make contributions.

What we will ask you

The application is split into 2 sections:

  1. Application details.
  2. Application questions.

1. Application details

Explain your project. This section is not scored, but we will use it to decide whether the project fits with the scope of the competition. If it does not, it will be immediately rejected.

Application details

The lead applicant must complete this section. Give your project’s title, start date and duration. Is the application a resubmission? The start date should be 1 April 2018 and the length should be 4 months.

Project summary

Describe your project briefly, and be clear about what makes it innovative. Your answer can be up to 200 words long.

Public description

Describe your project in detail, and in a way that you are happy to see published. Please do not include any commercially sensitive information. If we award your project funding, we will publish this description. This could happen before you start your project. Your answer can be up to 200 words long.


Describe how your project fits the scope of the competition. If your project is not in scope it will not be eligible for funding. Your answer can be up to 200 words long.

2. Application questions

In this section, answers to these questions are scored by representatives from DCMS, Innovate UK and the KTN, except for questions 4 and 6, which are for information only. Following assessment, you will receive feedback.

Your answer to each question can be up to 400 words long. Do not include any URLs in your answers unless we have explicitly requested a link to a video.

Question 1: The problem your idea will address

What is the business need, technological challenge or market opportunity behind your idea?

Describe or explain:

  • the main motivation behind your idea
  • the business need, technological challenge or market opportunity (have you carried out market analysis or got evidence of demand?)
  • the current known competition in this area, including those near market or in development

This question is worth 10 marks.

Question 2: Solution and innovation

What is your proposed solution to the problem you identified and where will the focus of the innovation be?

Describe or explain:

  • how your proposed solution addresses the need, challenge or opportunity identified
  • how your proposed solution will improve on the current competition
  • whether the innovation will focus on the application of existing technologies in new areas, the development of new technologies for existing areas or a totally disruptive approach

This question is worth 10 marks.

Question 3: Commercialisation

How do you intend to commercialise your idea? Have you got support from your academic institution’s technology transfer office, or equivalent?

Describe or explain:

  • what your approach to commercialisation is
  • what your academic institution’s approach to intellectual property (IP) and commercialisation is
  • if you have got support from your academic institution’s technology transfer office, or equivalent

This question is worth 10 marks.

Question 4: People

Who is involved and what are their roles?

Describe or explain:

  • your role, skills and experience
  • the person responsible for academic commercialisation, such as your technology transfer officer or equivalent role
  • any other people directly or indirectly involved or relevant to the research, their roles, skills and experience

This question is for information only and is not scored.

Question 5: Market validation

What is your plan for market validation? Who do you intend to work with?

Describe or explain:

  • your plan for market validation, including objectives, important milestones and how you will measure the success of the market validation
  • how you will determine whether your target market likes your product or service, or your concept for a product or service
  • what evidence there is that the market will be willing to buy your product or service
  • which companies or organisations you plan to approach to ask for support with your market validation
  • how will you find the right contacts and whether they will give you the necessary access to continue your market validation

This question is worth 10 marks.

Question 6: Costs

What are your costs for the 4-month programme? Please note the only eligible costs are salary, travel and subsistence.


  • the total costs for your involvement in this programme
  • the staff, travel and subsistence costs that you will incur
  • how the costs will be split into the value proposition and market validation parts of the programme (each lasts for 2 months)

This question is for information only and is not scored.

Background and further information

The 2016 National Cyber Security Strategy (NCSS) set out the government’s vision for the next 5 years: that the UK will be secure, resilient to cyber threats, prosperous and confident in the digital world. There are 3 broad strands of activity:

  1. Defend our cyberspace.
  2. Deter our adversaries.
  3. Develop our capabilities.

The UK cannot become the world’s leading digital nation and the best place to do business online unless organisations within the UK are secure and resilient. This involves promoting the UK’s cyber security sector and ensuring government, industry and academia work together to support a thriving ecosystem of successful, innovative companies.

The cyber security academic startup accelerator programme (CyberASAP) aims to increase the amount of academic research being commercialised within UK universities through a bespoke programme of support.

A successful pilot concluded in October 2017 and year 2 concluded in January 2019.

If you need more information, email us at or call the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357.

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