An event next week will provide free advice and support to North West cybersecurity startups.

Manchester’s new digital security innovation hub, DiSHmcr, is the setting for Cyber Runway – part of the country’s largest cybersecurity accelerator programme – on 19-20th October.

The event offers help to cyber companies in the early stages of the business lifecycle. 

Backed by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Cyber Runway is being delivered across the UK regions by Plexal, Deloitte and the Centre for Secure Information Technologies.

Holly Grace Williams, who started Blackpool-based Akimbo Core in 2021, will speak about her journey from concept to founding her company and ultimately on to success.

Akimbo Core addresses weaknesses in traditional approaches to security testing by helping businesses protect against forms of potential cyber risk, including automatically finding issues that can threaten a company’s data integrity.

“There is a vast amount to learn when you want to start your own cybersecurity company, so it helps to have what I like to call ‘cheat codes’ – first and foremost of which is making sure you have the right skill and competency,” she said.

“Before founding Akimbo Core, I was MD of another cybersecurity company (Secarma). That role taught me a lot of the things I needed to know in order to run my own company, because I was already in that business environment, dealing with failures and observing successes and learning what worked.

“Obviously, running your own company is different from working for someone else, but if you can gather as many industry-specific skills beforehand, then things are going to run more smoothly.

“One element that I hadn’t previously considered when I wasn’t running my own company was hiring people for positions outside of my own sphere of competence or expertise.

“Turning to a growth support company, and hiring consultants, not to fill roles but to help do the hiring for those roles, makes sense. Branding within tech spheres is of low importance, but with the founding of a company, it is of paramount importance.

“You need to get your company there, with defined USPs and building your name around them.”

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The event will be the first to take place at DiSHmcr, the 11,000 sq ft collaborative working space situated at Heron House in the heart of the city, home to GCHQ and its National Cyber Security Centre.

Sam Donaldson, director at advisors Perspective Economics, will explain how companies in the region can use the DCMS Cyber Sector Analysis Report 2022 to identify and maximise business growth opportunities.

One of the hosts of the event is Cyber Security Partnership Development Manager Jon Lomas from Lancaster University, the UK’s foremost NCSC accredited academic centre for excellence in cybersecurity.

He said: “Our region’s digital ambition is second to none, which is evident due to the highest calibre of cybersecurity professionals we have gathered to share their expert insights.

“The event will help them to understand the developing cyber ecosystem in the region – gain valuable insights and provide support to develop their plans for growth.

“The North West has a proud history of being at the forefront of industry, dating back to the Industrial Revolution, and now we are proud to be leading the cybersecurity revolution.”

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