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City of London Corporation: in conversation with LORCA’s programme director Saj Huq //16.12.19

City of London Corporation: in conversation with LORCA's programme director Saj Huq

The City of London Corporation recently sat down with our programme director Saj Huq to talk about the attractions of the UK as a technology and cybersecurity hub – and in particular its global appeal. See the interview on The Global City website, or keep reading below.

What does your organisation do?

“We are a UK government-backed cybersecurity innovation programme based at Plexal (a 68,000 square foot innovation centre and co-working space in the east of London). We’re supported by our corporate partners (Lloyds Banking Group, Dell Technologies, Kudelski Security and the Global Cyber Alliance) as well as a cross-spectrum of industry leaders, funders, academics and technology innovations through our forums and events.

We help promising scale-up businesses to develop and commercialise their products and to successfully take them to market in order to help industry better protect itself from the ever-broadening array of global cyber challenges.

Our aim is to grow the UK’s cyber sector by convening and building the cyber ecosystem, fostering international collaboration and being the UK’s home for industry-led cyber innovation. Ultimately, it’s our aim to make the internet safer for everyone and enable businesses and consumers to take greater leaps with technology.”

Tell us about your body’s UK operations and its UK history.

“LORCA launched in June 2018 with backing from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), a UK government department. It was initially tasked with supporting 72 scaling companies. Since then, companies from our first three cohorts have raised over £58m in investment and won 514 contracts. We have just closed an open call for applications for our fourth cohort. These companies will be joining the programme in January 2020.”

What advantages and attractions are there to your organisation being based in the UK?

“The UK has always had, and will always have, a global mindset. We’re an outward-looking nation with close cultural and trading ties with international markets and a strong heritage in innovation. If we continue to foster collaboration both here in the UK and abroad by having a global mindset and partnering with international organisations and innovators, the country is in a fantastic position to be a global leader in cyber innovation.

And while overseas cyber hubs in the US and Israel are very well-developed, the UK is home to one of the most vibrant technology and cybersecurity sectors in the world, having produced a range of world-leading companies. In addition to London, there are further clusters of cybersecurity excellence in cities such as Manchester, Cheltenham, Edinburgh and Belfast.

The UK also boasts internationally renowned academic excellence, a world-leading financial centre and investment landscape and an internationally respected rule of law and legislative system.

Outline your organisation’s growth plans and how you see the UK featuring in these.

“Our mission is to become a global centre for cyber innovation, serving the needs of industry as part of the UK’s ambition to become the safest place to be online. As part of this objective, we have supported 35 innovative scale-ups through the LORCA programme, but we have more to do. We will continue to act as an enabler for the ecosystem, helping promising businesses to grow, develop, access capital and advance.

Beyond this, we increasingly see a role for LORCA as a global platform within the international innovation landscape. As an example, we continue to recruit companies from home and overseas markets that are hoping to make an impact in the UK, but we also see outward international expansion for our activities as an increasing area of focus too.

On the near term horizon, 2020 will encompass our largest intake of companies into our core programme, as well the on-boarding of more corporate innovation partners. LORCA’s primary focus will always be the growth of the cybersecurity market in the UK and the security of our increasingly connected economy, infrastructure and population.”