08 Nov 2023

Event round-up: Cyber Innovation Den 2023

Catch up on all the highlights from techUK's flagship cyber event and the fifth annual cyber innovation pitching competition.

On Wednesday 11 October, techUK hosted its flagship cyber security conference, featuring the fifth annual cyber SME innovation pitching competition.

This year, attendees at the Cyber Innovation Den heard keynote speeches from thought leaders in the cyber sector including:

  • Saba Ahmed, Managing Director Cyber Resilience, Accenture Security UKI
  • Andrew Elliot, Acting Director of Cyber Security, Department for Science, Innovation & Technology (DSIT) 
  • Diane Gilbert, Innovation Ecosystem Lead, Plexal
  • Joshua Walter, General Partner, Osney Capital

Our speakers looked at the cyber threat landscape, the cyber innovation ecosystem and the cyber investment landscape. The theme of skills was picked up by all our speakers, highlighting the vital importance of upskilling the UK’s workforce to better address cyber threats through clear development opportunities for employees and incentivising cyber roles.  To learn more, take a closer look at the highlights from the event below.

techUK’s Cyber Innovator 2023 announced!

The Cyber Innovation Den Pitching Competition returned for its fifth year, showcasing SMEs and start-ups as they pitched their cutting-edge products and services to a panel of experts, which included Diane Gilbert, Plexal, David Sully, Advai and Joshua Walter, Osney Capital.

The level of competition was incredibly high, demonstrating the remarkable innovation within the sector, and after an exciting afternoon, secure data sharing specialist Verifoxx  was named techUK’s Cyber Innovator 2023. Congratulations again to Roisin Meehan and the team! You can watch Verifoxx’s winning pitch here.

And you can find out more about our key note speeches and our eight other fantastic finalists in the Pitching Competition section below.

Keynote 1 – Saba Ahmed, Managing Director Cyber Resilience, Accenture UKI

This year’s opening keynote was delivered by Saba Ahmed, Managing Director for Cyber Resilience at Accenture UKI, who set the scene for the afternoon by providing an overview

of the constantly transforming threat landscape, pinpointing 5 current trends in the cyber threat landscape:

  1. Ransomware reimagined
  2. Software supply chain
  3. Identity based attacks
  4. Cloud Exploitation
  5. OT attacks

Looking ahead to next year, Saba expressed concern over the spread of disinformation and the potential for this to grow exponentially due to the wider use of AI and disruptive technologies. With a general election looming, the geopolitical nature of AI-enabled disinformation campaigns will likely become a major threat to the integrity of our political environment. To address these threats, Saba pointed to the need to take a holistic approach to cyber security.

You can watch Saba's keynote here

Keynote 2 – Diane Gilbert, Innovation Ecosystem Lead, Plexal

The second keynote was delivered by Diane Gilbert, Innovation Ecosystem Lead at Plexal an innovation company which works to solve society’s challenges through collaboration on technology with the government and other sectors.

Diane highlighted the importance of fostering innovation in the cyber sector, stressing three key strategies for SMEs and start-ups:

  1. Understand your place in the National Cyber Strategy and your ecosystem.
  2. Become an active member of the cyber community.
  3. Join an association.

You can watch Diane's keynote here

Keynote 3 – Joshua Walter, General Partner Osney Capital

Joshua Walter, General Partner at Osney Capital provided an insightful overview of the cyber investment landscape.

Addressing the UK market, he commented on the misperceptions surrounding evaluations and the evolving flow of money in the ecosystem. He made note of the groundswell of innovation in evaluations between 12 to 18 months. There has been a formation of exciting early-stage companies addressing the biggest challenges facing the UK market, which has resulted in the UK becoming more relevant on the cyber stage and an ecosystem with high-quality academic institutions, research perspectives and centres of excellence. A good level of targeted investment has also helped to scale up the market.

In closing, Josh made reference to the impending security challenges posed by AI and ML capabilities, and the preparedness of the tech industry to address a raft of new threats.

You can watch Josh's keynote here

Keynote 4 – Andrew Elliot, Acting Director of Cyber Security, Department for Science, Innovation & Technology (DSIT)

Andrew Elliot returned to the Cyber Innovation Den to provide an update on the government’s objectives for the cyber landscape.  He drew our attention to the significant challenge of addressing the skills gap, highlighting government's efforts to mitigate this gap through initiatives such as cyber bootcamps and sectorial competitions like the Cyber Runway.  

Touching on the AI Summit, which at the time of the Cyber Innovation Den, was only two weeks off and the topic at the front of everyone’s minds. Andrew said colleagues working in the cyber space had been briefed on the Summit, which aims to formalise a process for deploying AI which enables growth and innovation while being aware of the risks. Andrew also made note of the working being undertaken by colleagues across government on cyber security. Andrew highlighted the work the Foreign and Commonwealth Office are undertaking on the dual use of cyber technology and spotlighting the different partnerships with international actors. The annual survey of the cyber market which DSIT carries out has looked to develop an understanding of what the cyber sector needs to grow. The survey has also looked at the types of certifications which have dominance over the cyber market.   

You can watch Andrewy's keynote here.

Keynote 5 – Sarah Blundell, Chief Operating Officer, CyberHive

Sarah Blundell, Chief Operating Officer of CyberHive reflected on her organisation’s journey since winning the Cyber Innovation Den last year.

Sarah spoke of the value innovation brings and the importance of showcasing this in the real world so people can benefit from it.

Thinking back to last year, Sarah noted the judges’ comments on CyberHive’s ability to communicate the value they bring to the audience. This year, CyberHive have focused on improving how they do this. As a technology focused company, they are comfortable talking about their technology offering. However, to enable growth Sarah noted the importance of communicating this to the customer. Sarah highlighted four key areas which all customers are interested in:

  • Saving time
  • Saving money
  • Making money
  • Reducing risk

You can watch Sarah's keynote here

Find out more about what CyberHive have been up to since winning the 2022 competition by watching the full keynote session here.

You can watch the pitches from the 2022 Cyber Innovation Den here.

The 2023 Cyber Innovation Den Pitching Competition – watch the pitches here!

This year, we heard from nine finalists who each offer a wide range of cyber security innovations. Read more about the finalists and watch their pitches below.

  • Acubed.IT partner with UK Government Departments to automate business processes and create user-centric, secure, scalable, accessible, and cost-effective digital solutions. Watch Acubed.IT’s pitch here.  
  • Complete Cyber offer direct technical support and swift remediations, they also guarantee unparalleled assistance to safeguard your operations from cyber threats. Watch Complete Cyber’s pitch here.
  • Fact360 monitors corporate-communication patterns, leveraging AI to detect subtle anomalies in behaviour. Watch Fact360’s pitch here.
  • Goldilock is a platform that utilizes secure non-internet communications to keep your sensitive digital assets physically segregated from any network, while still having them accessible at a moment’s notice from anywhere on Earth. Watch Goldilock’s pitch here.
  • J2 Software ensures the implementation of effective cyber resilience programmes to give organisations enterprise-grade security. Watch J2 Software’s pitch here.
  • Lab 1 provides a comprehensive real-time view of the risk of exposed data for organisations and their supply chains. Watch Lab 1’s pitch here.
  • Licel helps harden Android, iOS and Java apps and SDKs against static and dynamic attacks, reverse engineering, malware injection and communication interception. Watch Licel’s pitch here.
  • Secretariaum provide a privacy technology to secure and process data, this technology allows companies to derive insights and intelligence. Watch Secretariaum’s pitch here.
  • Verifoxx is a B2B privacy preserving data verification startup enabling data sharing and verification through Privacy Enhancing Technologies. Watch Verifoxx’s pitch here.

You can watch the full event here.

If you’d like to find out more about techUK’s Cyber Security Programme, our helpful Cyber SME Forum and how you can get involved with both, please do get in touch!

Dan Patefield

Dan Patefield

Head of Cyber and National Security, techUK

Jill Broom

Jill Broom

Programme Manager, Cyber Security, techUK

Annie Collings

Annie Collings

Programme Manager, Cyber Security and Central Government, techUK

Raya Tsolova

Programme Manager, techUK

Tracy Modha

Team Assistant - Markets, techUK