Funding competition Cyber security academic startup accelerator programme year 4: 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


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

The aim of this competition is to identify the best commercial opportunities. Your proposal must 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.

CyberASAP is a 1-year programme. Phase 1 will last up to 4 months, split into 2 stages:

  1. An initial 2 months for value proposition development activities, followed by a presentation to an independent judging panel who will select teams to go to stage 2.
  2. A further 2 months for market validation activities.

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

The competition closes at midday 12pm UK time on the deadline stated.

Funding type


Project size

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

Who can apply

State aid

Projects are not funded under state aid in this competition.

Your project

Your total eligible costs for the value proposition stage of your project must be no more than £16,000. Your total eligible costs for the market validation stage must be no more than £16,000.

Your project must start on 1 April 2020 and end by 31 July 2020.

If your project’s total eligible costs fall outside of our eligibility criteria, you must provide justification by email to at least 10 days before the competition closes. We will decide whether to approve your request.

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

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

The grant will be paid to the academic institutions after each stage of phase 1.

Building value proposition and market validation activities

If we award you funding you must be dedicated to the project for the 2-month value proposition building activity from 1 April 2020. 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 2020.

'Dedicated to the project' means you must:

  • attend 3 events in London as part of the initial 2-month value proposition activity
  • be able and be permitted to work on your project for at least 2 days a week in order to make it a success

The events will be organised by the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN). You will be contacted by KTN with full details, including confirmed dates.

The planned dates are:

  • 1 and 2 April 2020: 2 day boot camp
  • 28 and 29 April 2020: 2 day mid-programme review
  • 21 or 22 May 2020: 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:

  • 2 to 4 June: Infosecurity Europe exhibition, where you must attend a minimum of one day
  • 8 and 9 June: 2 day boot camp
  • 30 June and 1 July: 2 day mid-programme review
  • 23 or 24 July: one day pitch to selection panel

Participants in phase 1 with ideas that demonstrate the most potential for commercialisation will be invited to apply to participate in phase 2, where funding is available to develop a proof of concept for the product or service.

Multiple applications

You can submit more than one application but we will not select more than one for funding.

Previous applications


You can use a resubmission to apply for this competition. A resubmission is a proposal Innovate UK judges as not materially different from one you have submitted before. It can be updated based on the assessors' feedback.

If you submit a new proposal this time you will be able to use it in no more than one future competition that allows resubmissions.


We have allocated up to £800,000 to fund cyber security ideas through this competition.

We want to fund up to 25 applications.

Applicants can apply for funding for up to 100%. This can only cover salary, travel within the UK, accommodation if necessary to attend London workshops 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.

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.

Your proposal must include:

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

Projects we will not fund

We are not funding projects that:

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

10 February 2020
Competition opens
11 February 2020
Online briefing event: recording
4 March 2020 12:00pm
Competition closes
12 March 2020 8:25am
Applicants notified

Before you start

You must read the general guidance for applicants before you start.

What we will ask you

The application is split into 2 sections:

  1. Project details.
  2. Application questions.

1. Project details

This section sets the scene for the assessors and is not scored.

Application details

The lead applicant must complete this section. Give your project’s title, set the start date as 1 April 2020 and duration as 4 months. Is the application a resubmission?

Research category

Select the type of research you will undertake.

Project summary

Describe your project briefly, and be clear about what makes it innovative. We use this section to assign experts to assess your application.

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. 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 400 words long.

2. Application questions

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

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

Question 1. Need or challenge

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 nearest current state-of-the-art, including those near market or in development, and its limitations
  • any work you have already done to respond to this need, for example if the project focuses on developing an existing capability or building a new one
  • the wider economic, social, environmental, cultural or political challenges which are influential in creating the opportunity, such as incoming regulations, using our Horizons tool if appropriate

This question is worth 10 marks.

Question 2. Approach and innovation

What approach will you take and where will the focus of the innovation be?

Describe or explain:

  • how you will respond to the need, challenge or opportunity identified
  • how you will improve on the nearest current state-of-the-art identified
  • 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
  • the freedom you have to operate

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. Team and resources

Who is in the project team and what are their roles?

Describe or explain:

  • the roles, skills and experience of all members of the project team that are relevant to the approach you will be taking
  • the person responsible for academic commercialisation who supports this application, such as your technology transfer officer or equivalent role, and if possible include their name and contact details
  • 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 you will 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 (within the UK) 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.

For more details on the programme please go to or email

If you need more information, email us at or call the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357 between 9am and 5:30pm, Monday to Friday.

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