Funding competition Cyber security academic startup accelerator programme year 5: phase 1

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

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Competition sections

Description

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

The aim of this competition is to identify the most promising commercial opportunities. Your proposal must include the area of your research, the problem that you are solving and your proposed solution.

The Cyber Security Academic Startup Accelerator Programme (CyberASAP) is a 1-year programme.

This is phase 1 of a 2-phase competition.

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.

This competition has two funding strands for entry:

  1. Security of Digital Technologies at the Periphery (SDTaP) - commercialisation
  2. CyberASAP – open

You will be asked to specify which funding strand you are applying for.

In applying to this competition, you are entering into a competitive process. The competition closes at 11am UK time on the deadline stated.

Funding type

Grant

Project size

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

Who can apply

This competition offers two funding strands:

  • Security of Digital Technologies at the Periphery (SDTaP) – commercialisation
  • CyberASAP – open

You will be asked which funding strand you are applying for:

  1. The SDTaP – commercialisation strand, is open to eligible researchers from academic institutions that are active consortium members of the Privacy, Ethics, Trust, Reliability, Acceptability and Security (PETRAS). Eligible researchers are those who have been funded from PETRAS as part of a research project. This strand offers commercialisation support for UKRI-funded project-based research results with promising innovation potential and societal impact. Applicable projects extend across the PETRAS current project portfolio as well as the legacy project portfolio of the PETRAS IoT Research Hub.
  2. The CyberASAP – open strand, is open for eligible individuals from academic institutions that are not eligible for the SDTaP – commercialisation strand.

This is phase 1 of a 2-phase competition.

Phase 1 will last up to 4 months, split into 2 stages

Your project must:

  • have total eligible costs for the two stages between £5,000 and £32,000
  • have total eligible costs for the first stage up to £16,000
  • have total eligible costs for the second stage up to £16,000
  • start on 1 April 2021
  • end on 31 July 2021

If your project’s total eligible costs fall outside of our eligibility criteria, you must provide justification by email to support@innovateuk.ukri.org at least 10 working days before the competition closes. 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

Project team

To collaborate with the lead, you must:

  • be based in a UK academic institution
  • be interested in the commercialisation of the idea
  • have the support of your academic institution’s technology transfer office, or equivalent
  • be invited to take part by the lead applicant

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 after each stage of phase 1. Each academic institution in the consortium will be funded individually, but the total funding for all academic partners must be no more than £32k for each application.

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 2021. 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 2021.

'Dedicated to the project' means you must:

  • attend 5 days of online events 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 for the value proposition stage are:

  • 1 April 2021: value proposition bootcamp - part 1 (1 day)
  • 15 April: value proposition bootcamp - part 2 (1 day)
  • 29 and 30 April 2021: value proposition mid-stage review (2 day event)
  • 26 or 27 May 2021: value proposition pitch to selection panel (teams must pitch at a slot on one of these two days)

All events will take place online.

KTN will hold informal weekly 1-hour drop-in sessions during phase 1. These are likely to be Friday mornings.

Before the formal start of the programme an informal introduction session is planned for the morning of Tuesday 23 March 2021.

To participate in and complete the additional 2 months for market validation, applicants recommended by the selection panel must commit to attend 5 days of online events, and one day attending the Info Security Europe exhibition in London or online.

The planned dates are:

  • 8 June: Info Security Europe exhibition (London or online)
  • 9 and 10 June: market validation bootcamp (2 days)
  • 30 June and 1 July: market validation mid-stage review (2 day event)
  • 21 or 22 July: market validation pitch to selection panel (teams must pitch at a slot on one of these two days)

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 if you have multiple ideas, but we will not select more than one for funding.

Previous applications

You can use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.

We will not award you funding if you have:

  • failed to exploit a previously funded project
  • an overdue independent accountant’s report
  • failed to comply with grant terms and conditions

No subsidy (and non aid where applicable)

No subsidy

This competition provides funding that is not classed by Innovate UK as a subsidy. You should still seek independent legal advice on what this means for you, before applying.

Further information about the UK Subsidy Control requirements can be found within the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation agreement and the subsequent BEIS guidance.

‘No subsidy’ status is only granted to organisations which declare that they will not use the funding:

  • in any way which gives them selective economic or commercial advantage
  • in any way which would determine the funding as a subsidy as defined by the EU-UK Trade Cooperation Agreement

Non-Aid

If you are applying as a research organisation, defined by the R&D&I framework, and are located in Northern Ireland you commit to ensuring the funding remains non-aid and you adhere to the same eligibility requirements in this competition.

‘Non-aid’ status is only granted to applicants who declare that they will not use the funding:

  • in any way which gives them selective economic or commercial advantage
  • in any other way which would determine the funding as State aid as defined by the European Commission

It is the responsibility of the lead organisation to make sure all collaborators in the project remain compliant with the State aid or subsidy requirements.

It is important to note that it is the activity that an organisation is engaged in as part of the project and not its intentions, that define whether any support provided could be considered a subsidy.

Further guidance

If you are unsure about the regulations and your obligations, please take independent legal advice.

You must make sure at all times that the funding awarded to you is compliant with all current Subsidy Control legislation applicable in the United Kingdom.

This aims to regulate any advantage granted by a public sector body which threatens to or actually distorts competition in the United Kingdom or any other country or countries.

If there are any changes to the above requirements that mean we need to change the terms of this competition, we will tell you as soon as possible.

Funding

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

We want to fund up to 30 applications.

Applicants can apply for funding for up to 100% of eligible project costs. This can only cover salary, programme related travel within the UK, accommodation if necessary and subsistence.

No more than £16,000 can be allocated to the initial 2 months of the programme for the stage 1, value proposition building activity.

No more than £16,000 can be allocated to the 2 month stage 2 market validation activity.

Your proposal

The aim of this competition is to identify the most promising commercial opportunities in academia in respect to cyber security.

We define ‘cyber security’ to mean protecting any or all the following from unauthorised access, harm or misuse:

  • information systems (hardware, software and associated infrastructure)
  • data on such systems
  • services provided by information systems

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

Your project 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
  • that have no intention to commercialise
  • that have an academic lead that has already led and completed in a previous CyberASAP project
8 February 2021
Competition opens
9 February 2021
Online briefing event: watch the recording
3 March 2021 11:00am
Competition closes
12 March 2021
Applicants notified

Before you start

You must read the guidance on applying for a competition on the Innovation Funding Service before you start.

What we ask you

The application is split into 2 sections:

  • Project details.
  • Application questions

Project details

This section provides background 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 2021 and duration as 4 months.

Research category

Select the type of research you will undertake.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

We collect and report on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) data to address under-representation in business innovation and ensure equality, diversity and inclusion across all our activities.

You must complete this EDI survey and then select yes in the application question. The survey will ask you questions on your gender, age, ethnicity and disability status. You will always have the option to ‘prefer not to say’ if you do not feel comfortable sharing this information.

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.

Scope

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.

Application questions

Answers to these questions are scored by representatives from DCMS, Innovate UK and KTN, except for questions 1, 2, 6 and 8, which are for information only. After the assessment, you will receive feedback.

Your answer to each question can be up to 400 words long apart from question 1 which is up to 200 words. Do not include any website addresses (URLs) in your answers.

Question 1. Public description (not scored)

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.

This question is for information only and is not scored.

Question 2. Select funding strand (not scored)

You must select which funding strand you are applying for:

  • Security of Digital Technologies at the Periphery (SDTaP) - commercialisation.
This strand is open to eligible researchers from academic institutions that are active consortium members of the Privacy, Ethics, Trust, Reliability, Acceptability and Security (PETRAS) National Centre of Excellence for IoT Systems Cybersecurity.

  • CyberASAP – open strand
This strand is open for all eligible individuals except those who are eligible for the SDTaP strand.

Question 3. Need or challenge

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

Describe or explain:

  • the main motivation for the project
  • 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 4. 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

This question is worth 10 marks.

Question 5. 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

Confirm that you have got support from your academic institution’s technology transfer office, or equivalent. In your answer to Question 6 you will need to provide their details.

This question is worth 10 marks.

Question 6. Team and Resources (not scored)

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

Question 7. 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 8. Costs (not scored)

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

Describe:

  • 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 stages of the programme (each lasts for 2 months)

Background and further information

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

  • defend our cyberspace
  • deter our adversaries
  • 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: www.cyberasap.co.uk or email cyberasap@ktn-uk.org.

UKRI’s Security of Digital Technologies at the Periphery (SDTaP) Programme aims to establish a national capability to enable the UK to become a world-leader in the Internet of Things (IoT) and associated systems cyber security through new knowledge and deep expertise creation.

SDTaP aims to explore the nexus of cyber security and IoT technologies and systems while taking into account key technological trends and innovation. The programme is specifically looking across industry sectors and application areas at technologies that are driven by Artificial Intelligence (AI), next generation networks, cloud and edge computing.

SDTaP draws on an array of expertise that spans engineering and physical and behavioural sciences to explore issues of privacy, trustworthiness, ethics, law and regulation, and education and skills as they relate to IoT technologies and their impact on society.

The Privacy, Ethics, Trust, Reliability, Acceptability and Security (PETRAS) National Centre of Excellence for IoT Systems Cybersecurity is SDTaP’s multidisciplinary research arm that exists to provide a step-change in research across the IoT and associated systems security.

Contact us

If you need more information about how to apply email support@innovateuk.ukri.org or call 0300 321 4357.

Our phone lines are open from 9am to 11:30am and 2pm to 4:30pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).

Innovate UK is committed to making support for applicants accessible to everyone.

We can provide help for applicants who face barriers when making an application. This might be as a result of a disability, neurodiversity or anything else that makes it difficult to use our services. We can also give help and make other reasonable adjustments for you if your application is successful.

If you think you need more support, it is important that you contact our Customer Support Service as early as possible during your application process. You should aim to contact us no later than 10 working days before the competition closing date.

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