April 3, 2019

MANCHESTER START-UPS "HELPED US TAP INTO A NEW SEAM OF INGENUITY" SAYS GCHQ DIRECTOR GENERAL FOR TECHNOLOGY

MANCHESTER — 03 April, 2019:


Four start-ups emerge from the ‘GCHQ Engineering Accelerator Manchester’, a ground-breaking programme launched by GCHQ, a world-leading intelligence, cyber and security agency, and Telefónica’s innovation arm, Wayra UK, having secured rapid growth for their businesses during the intensive 3-month programme.

At an undisclosed location, PlaceDashboard, Jobseekrs, Locometric and Y?Not, gained exclusive access to the unrivalled technological and security expertise of GCHQ as well as IT heavyweight Cisco and Manchester Science Partnerships (MSP), to expand capability, improve ideas and devise cutting-edge products in areas including data engineering, machine learning and automation.

The inaugural cohort shared its successes in front of 100 attendees at an exclusive Demo day in Manchester which included keynote speeches from the GCHQ Director General for Technology and Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham.

During the course of the programme, PlaceDashboard closed a six-figure deal and increased revenues to help consolidate and strengthen its position as a big data disruptor. Locometric expanded its reach into the US market by securing a major partnership and building a closer relationship with technology giant Apple. jobseekrs were able to bring onboard 10 new strategic partners, while Y?Not used the opportunity to validate their concept ready for a launch soon.

GCHQ also leveraged the opportunity of working alongside those start-ups operating on the frontiers of innovation.

Speaking at the Demo day, the GCHQ Director General for Technology, discussed the impact the programme had had on the intelligence agency’s software engineers: “This accelerator has brought new thinking to our engineering team. New minds into our national security community. And it has shown that we can deliver more for our mission if we work this way. The start-ups have helped us to create new partnerships: within the cohort, within the Tech Hub in Manchester and the North West, with Manchester Science Partnership, with the universities, and the city council. They have helped us tap into a new seam of ingenuity. There is a thriving ecosystem around us here and it is great to be a growing part of it.  We will see more of that in action as GCHQ starts to expand here this year. We have brought our national security mission to Manchester; and Manchester has helped us in our work to pioneer a new kind of security. We know from our history – that with the right mix of minds anything is possible. It has been true for all of our last 100 years. It is just as true as we embark on the next 100 years.”

Speaking at the event, Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “I was extremely impressed with the entrepreneurs who pitched at the GCHQ Engineering Accelerator Demo Day. These early-stage businesses represent the calibre of talent we have in the North West as well as our rich engineering heritage which was clearly on show. I want to thank Wayra and GCHQ for their continued investment in the city-region and wish all of those who pitched the best of luck with their journeys. There are around 105,000 companies in our area but we always want more. We are making it easier to set up new enterprises, and are helping existing businesses develop and grow, working alongside the Manchester Growth Company (MGC) to bring trade, investment and growth to Greater Manchester.“

Paul Sanders, Technical Director at PlaceDashboard, said: “The sessions with Wayra experts have really helped us take a new look in detail at all aspects of the business, which sparked an immediate change in the interest shown in the platform. Working with GCHQ experts has enabled us to transform the relationships we have with our clients and unlocked endless possibilities in how we can apply new technologies including AI and machine learning, which will lead to the roll out of a new product range in the next 12 months.”

Gary Stewart, Director of Wayra UK and Telefónica Open Future in the UK, said: “Wayra UK’s shared vision with GCHQ in utilising the local expertise of regional hubs to scale ambitious technology start-ups will make all the difference in maintaining Britain’s position as a global innovation leader. It’s the responsibility of organisations such as ours to offer our resources in order for emerging businesses to grow wherever they’re positioned in the UK. We now have a solid foundation from which to build in Manchester and the wider North West region.”

The Businesses graduating the programme include:
jobseekrs: jobseekrs – the world’s first video interactive job-site that uses psychometric culture-fit and takes unconscious bias out of matching great candidates to suitable roles.

locometric: See and control all your home automation gadgets in a simple, beautiful 3D model of your home.

PlaceDashboard: We help Town Centres, Retail Managers, Property Funds and Investors to maximise their tenant mix, optimise retail site regeneration and manage store closure risk.

Y?Not: A platform designed to combat loneliness and social isolation.

Additional quotes from start-up cohort:

Richard Tate at Y?Not, said: “During the Wayra UK & GCHQ programme we had some absolutely wonderful support and advice from some of the very best in the industry! We were introduced to a number of strategic partners that we are building relationships with, some of which may lead to long-term collaborations that will benefit the Y?Not business and our future customers. We would very strongly recommend the programme to other ambitious businesses.”

Dr. Elsa G Zekeng, Director of Operations & Student Engagement, said: “Over the course of the accelerator, Jobseekrs has launched its (beta) MVP and is currently engaging with over 15 companies in the Greater Manchester area, 8 Universities and colleges in the North of England, over 3500 students and 10 strategic partnerships with different networks – creative, non-for profit, fashion and local authority programmes.”



For Wayra and start-ups:

Danny Bartlett, Communications Consultant: danny.bartlettc@wayra.org; +44 (0) 7737315081


Wayra

Wayra is the most global, connected and technological open innovation hub in the world. Under the Telefónica brand Wayra currently operates in 10 countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Germany, Mexico, Peru, Spain, the United Kingdom and Venezuela.

Our hubs have raised over $248 million through third-party investors for our companies. Our global presence allows us to be at the helm of innovation, shoulder to shoulder with driven entrepreneurs and in a position to engage the right partners, corporate leaders, investors, serial entrepreneurs and leaders of industries for business.

We have been committed partners for seven years and connect innovators with Telefónica and generate joint business opportunities. We offer unparalleled access to Telefónica’s 350 million customers and clients across multiple countries. We are a unique and effective interface between both entrepreneurs and our network of corporates, governments and other partners in the 17 countries in which Telefónica global operates.


GCHQ

GCHQ is a world-leading intelligence, cyber and security agency with a mission to keep the UK safe. Our brilliant people use cutting-edge technology, technical ingenuity and wide-ranging partnerships to identify, analyse and disrupt threats.

It is GCHQ's job to stay one step ahead of those who would do our nation and its people harm. From managing the cyber threat posed by other nation states to preventing terrorist attacks, keeping our children safe online and supporting our armed forces, the exceptional men and women of GCHQ operate on the frontline of global challenges.

Our values of Integrity, Ingenuity, Impact and Teamwork permeate through everything we do and our strong community spirit enables everyone to play their part in keeping the nation safe.

This year will see GCHQ celebrate its centenary. Throughout our history our blend of cutting-edge technology, ingenuity and great people have helped keep the country safe. As the world continues to change and new threats emerge, GCHQ will continue to be at the heart of the nation's security.


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