25 Jun 2021

Event Round-up: Cyber Innovation Den 2021

A summary of the keynotes, panel session and pitching competition at techUK's Cyber Innovation Den 2021.

On Thursday 17 June techUK was delighted to host our third annual Cyber Innovation Den in partnership with UKCloudX.  

Held virtually for the second time, the conference sessions explored how the UK cyber security sector can build on the success achieved over the last decade. Our excellent line up of speakers, including the Minister for Digital Infrastructure Matt Warman MP, Gerry Cantwell, Director – Defence & National Security, UKCloudX and Lee Rendell from Kaspersky, reviewed the successes we have seen to date in the cyber security sector including the foundation of the National Cyber Security Centre, rapid growth in the value of the sector to the UK economy and growing exports revenue as well as highlighting the areas where we need to do more, such as regional development, skills and diversity. There was also a fantastic panel discussion on realising the potential of the UK cyber sector with industry experts Cath Goulding, Nominet; Saj Huq, LORCA and Plexal; Melanie Oldham, Bob’s Business and the Yorkshire Cyber Cluster; and Katharina Sommer, NCC Group. If you weren’t able to make it along on the day, you’ll find the recordings of the lively sessions in the summary section below.

TWO Cyber Innovation Den Pitching Competition Winners!

As in previous years, one of the most popular parts of the day was our Cyber Innovation Pitching Competition, which highlights the pioneering work of some of the brightest companies in the country as they pitch their product or service to a panel of expert judges, with the winner named techUK's Cyber Innovator 2021.

The competition was of such a high standard this year that the judges decided to crown two winners – CAPSLOCK and ThinkCyber: two brilliant companies focused on improving the UK’s cyber skills. You can find out more about their innovative work below, and/or watch their competition session and the winners’ announcement

In Summary – the key themes from each session

Keynote 1: Lee Rendell, Kaperksy – The current threat to the landscape and key trends in the cyber sector.

Lee Rendell set the scene for the day’s activities with an opening speech on the threat landscape as it stands at the moment, with observations on the significant increase in detections of malwares detected every second and 1million+ threats that his organisation processes every day. Lee also provided a comprehensive overview of the trends the sector is seeing, including supply chain attacks; ransomware to targeted ransomware, upping extortion tactics, targeting developers, Zero-Days, APT trickle down, attacks against non-pcs, increased attack sophistication and deep fakes.

You can watch Lee’s full presentation here.

Keynote 2: Gerry Cantwell, Director – Defence & National Security, UKCloudX

Cyber Den Sponsor, Gerry Cantwell spoke on the cyber arena and why we need to innovate. We need to continue being safe online and need assurance that all that we are doing online is safe; and this isn’t easy because many people, firms, organisations are out there looking to do us harm – from the simple spreading of disinformation, to online frauds, DDoS attacks, stealing of sensitive information, ransomware etc. The motivations behind these attacks are diverse and cyber security will continue to be an arms race where our defences need to keep pace with technology in order to take advantage of it and be a step ahead of our adversaries. And a key message from Gerry was that sustainable investment in the sector is critical.  

You can watch Gerry’s keynote and the follow up Q&A session here.

Keynote 3: Matt Warman MP, Minister for Digital Infrastructure

Our third speaker of the day was the Minister for Digital Infrastructure, Matt Warman MP, who spoke about the importance of innovation to the cyber security ecosystem; how the Government continues to support innovation and growth within the sector; and what its priorities are going forward.

The Minister touched on the successes to date in the sector, such as the work of the NCSC and the increase in the number of cyber security firms in the UK, as well as looking towards the forthcoming National Cyber Security Strategy and how increasing awareness of key cyber technologies will continue through the work of the regional clusters. In reference to skills, the Minister also emphasised the Government’s desire to bring more people– from more diverse backgrounds and communities – into the sector to help underpin its innovation and growth.  

You can watch the Minister's full speech here

The Panel Discussion: Going from strength to strength – realising the potential of the UK cyber sector

The panel:

  • Katharina Sommer, Head of Public Affairs, NCC Group (Chair)
  • Cath Goulding, Chief Information Security Officer, Nominet
  • Saj Huq, Director, LORCA & Plexal
  • Melanie Oldham, Founder & CEO/Cluster Lead, Bob’s Business/Yorkshire Cyber Cluster

The UK remains a global leader in cyber security, with strong growth and investment in the sector leading to cutting-edge capabilities and strong exports; and, ahead of the next National Cyber Security Strategy, this panel set out to explore what we need to prioritise over the next five years, to unlock the potential of the sector and to ensure the UK is the safest place to live and work online.

The discussion kicked off with a summary of what’s been achieved in the sector and what’s on the horizon, including strengthening the UK cyber ecosystem through deepened collaboration; supporting skills development, innovation and research; reviewing supply chain security in more depth; and possible changes to regulation.

The panellists touched on key issues that still need to be addressed such as the impact of the skills gap – particularly at specialist level – and the continuing issue around the lack of diverse representation in the sector. Discussion also took place around what we should be doing to secure a sustainable pipeline of innovation and how intervention is needed to further support the SME market, particularly in their early stages. Alongside this the panel looked at the necessity to build relationships early on to support the development of trusted cyber ecosystems, particularly in local or regional spaces.

For more insight on realising the potential of the cyber sector, watch the full panel discussion here.

Pitching Session – Competition powered by UKCloudX

This year’s Cyber Innovation Den Pitching Competition saw some of the most innovative cyber SMEs come together to pitch their products and services to a panel of expert judges from across the private and public sectors. This year, judges were particularly looking for innovations focused on keeping the nation safe, whether that might be an innovation with a strong national security use case, or tools enabling citizens’ work/life online throughout the pandemic and beyond.

This year’s judging panel was made up as follows:

  • Gerry Cantwell, Director – Defence & National Security, UKCloudX
  • Andy Williams, CEO, Global Transatlantic
  • Nicola Whiting, Co-Owner, Titania Group
  • Andrew Elliot, Deputy Director – Cyber Security, Department for Digital, Culture, Sport & Media

Through an open call for applications, 10 finalists were identified – showcasing the latest leading-edge capabilities from across the UK cyber ecosystem. Pitching on the day were:

  • Capslock
  • Enclave Networks
  • ThinkCyber
  • iPassport
  • Bewica
  • Conatix
  • Armour Comms
  • Just Ask Max
  • Total-IA
  • Lockular

Catch up on Pitching Session 1 and Pitching Session 2 to find out more about the companies above.

Cyber Innovators 2021 – The Competition Winners

After careful deliberation the judges decided that two of the finalists deserved to be given the award this year, and they were CAPSLOCK and ThinkCyber.


CAPSLOCK is an educational organisation that re-skills adults into cyber professionals entirely online, within 6 months, and with no up-front costs. It is the UK’s largest provider of income share agreements, a revolutionary alternative to student finance which allows CAPSLOCK to invest in untapped talent, unlocking human potential while plugging the cyber skills gap. CAPSLOCK designed a rigorous cyber security training bootcamp around employer needs and in-demand workplace skills and then re-invented the entirety of higher education as we know it. From removing restrictive admissions criteria and funding barriers, through to delivering leading-edge education entirely online, CAPSLOCK is on-track to produce the equivalent of six universities worth of cyber talent in 2021 alone.


ThinkCyber delivers secure behaviour change for its customers. Its award winning Redflags™ software applies behavioural and learning science theory to, uniquely, deliver truly real-time, context sensitive security interventions and guidance at the point the user is at risk. When 90% of cyber-attacks start with the human user, and technical controls can never be 100%, organisations need their staff to be the last line of defence. But traditional approaches are infrequent, overly complex, quickly forgotten and less than 15% of people actually change their behaviour. ThinkCyber offers the next generation security awareness. Short, actionable and highly relevant content educates. Gentle and timely ‘nudges’ strengthen secure behaviours in real time. Reducing risk and offering visibility of risky behaviours. Full metrics offer unique insights. It’s seen average engagement levels with Redflags™ at 80-90%, halved click rates in three months and allowed clients to reach people/behaviours other awareness simply cannot. ThinkCyber doesn’t just train staff, it change their behaviours.

techUK is delighted to support innovative SMEs such as CAPSLOCK and ThinkCyber at the start of their journey into cyber security across UK sectors, and as part of the prize both organisations were named techUK Cyber Innovator 2021. We at techUK are delighted to showcase some of the best British talent and look forward to providing opportunities for other SME cyber companies soon.

To find out what last year’s Cyber Innovation Den winners, Surevine, have been up to, click here.

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