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Cybersecurity programme exceeds £150m investment milestone

by Peter Smyth Tech Journalist
10th Sep 20 8:19 am

The London Office for Rapid Cybersecurity Advancement (LORCA), the government-backed cybersecurity innovation programme delivered by the innovation centre Plexal, has revealed that its cohort companies have raised more than £150m in investment since the programme launched two years ago.

LORCA was tasked with raising £40m over three years. Today’s announcement shows that LORCA members have raised £153m, 280% of the original target and 12 months ahead of schedule. This accounts for 76% of the funds raised by all cyber security businesses participating in Government scaleup programmes and 69% of all cyber investment raised in the UK since the country went into lockdown.  

This milestone announcement comes at a time when UK cybersecurity is emerging as a growth success story during the global health pandemic. Research from Plexal and Beauhurst shows that cyber startups have raised £126m since the country went into lockdown, reporting only one fewer deal than in the same timeframe last year. This comes after a record year for British cyber investment in 2019, when startups raised more than £500m for the first time.

To mark its second anniversary, Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), is today visiting LORCA’s London HQ to meet innovators from the programme.

Investment into LORCA companies has primarily come from UK-based venture capital investment firms. The most active investors into LORCA cohort companies are IQ Capital Fund, 24Haymarket and Octopus Ventures.

72 startups and scaleups have been supported by LORCA over the past two years. This support includes innovation and commercialisation consultancy, product development and access to industry through a curriculum designed by Plexal (the innovation centre and coworking space based at Here East, established by Delancey), the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) at Queen’s University Belfast and Deloitte.

Businesses that have gone through LORCA’s accelerator have generated £26.5m in revenue over the last two years and are set to create 800 jobs by 2022. Members include Privitar, one of the UK’s fastest growing startups that was also named as the ninth fastest growing technology company in the Deloitte UK Technology Fast 50 in 2019.

Of these 72 businesses, 36% of them are based outside London and an additional 22% were previously based outside the UK. LORCA cohort companies are based in some of the fastest growing cyber clusters outside London – including Belfast, Cheltenham, Manchester and Edinburgh, all of which feature in the top 10 local authorities for cyber startups in the country according to the inaugural LORCA Report.

Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said, “Good cyber security is the bedrock of our digital economy – giving people the confidence to shop, work and play online and keeping businesses safe from cyber crime.

“London Tech Week is a fitting time to mark the government’s investment in LORCA, as its network of cutting-edge UK startups smashes investment targets and creates jobs across the country.”

Saj Huq, Director of LORCA said, “Never before has cybersecurity been of such economic and strategic national importance. In the context of the global health pandemic, the UK’s cyber entrepreneurs have continued to drive job creation, attract investment and consolidate the country’s position as a global hub for cybersecurity innovation. Breaking the milestone of raising £153m in just two years is testament to the quality and potential of the cyber startup ecosystem that exists across the UK and the centrality of it to the UK’s long-term prosperity.”

Stephen Wray, Deloitte said, “Refining emerging market challenges has been central to LORCA and we are delighted to see the impact of our market-led innovators. Reaching this milestone of collective investment in just two years shows the scale of the journey ahead and we look forward to support the continued growth of the UK cyber ecosystem.”

Louise Cushnahan, Head of Innovation at CSIT added, “CSIT’s academic and engineering staff have a strong track record in supporting UK cyber security companies. Over the past two years the 72 LORCA member companies have benefited from our expertise to scale-up and deliver truly novel solutions to global markets. 

“The diverse range of startups and scaleups that have taken part in LORCA presented a rich opportunity to deliver further economic, technological and societal outcomes for CSIT’s cutting edge research and innovation in the area of ‘Secure Connected Intelligence’ and it’s fantastic to see the investment and employment opportunities that these companies have generated.”

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