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CyRise and shine: New cyber security accelerator launching across the ditch

A new cyber security accelerator is launching in Melbourne next month – and Kiwi companies willing to jump across the ditch can join in.

CyRise, an Australian cyber security accelerator programme, is calling on early-stage cyber security entrepreneurs and industry professionals to apply for its six-month programme, which will kick off in September.

The accelerator programme, which has received funding from LaunchVic and a previously announced incubator partnership between Deakin University and Dimension Data, will give five cyber security startups from around Australia, New Zealand, and the wider APAC region the opportunity to be mentored by some of the best cyber security and startup veterans from Australia and around the world, gain real-world insight through CyRise’s Corporate Partner Program (which connects startups with early customers), embark on a structured trip to Israel and the US to build their knowledge of the wider cyber security landscape and grow their connections while networking with quality talent, and to pitch to investors for further funding at the completion of the programme.

Programme participants will be based out of Teamsquare, a coworking space in Melbourne’s CBD, and receive AU$50,000 in capital as part of a capped SAFE note. A “SAFE” (Simple Agreement for Future Equity) is an agreement between an investor and a company that provides a right for the investor to receive equity in the future, without determining a specific price per share.

There's other advantages, too. For starters, Melbourne has been named the world's most liveable city for the sixth year running. Amd not only is the Australian state of Victoria fast becoming known as the best location in Asia-Pacific region for the cyber security industry, the Australian startup ecosystem is in a period of strong growth, with standout companies continuing to achieve huge successes. Just look at Atlassian (listed on the NASDAQ, valued at AU$8 billion), Airtasker (closed a AU$22 million funding round led by Seven West Media), Freelancer (ASX-listed, users across 247 countries, acquired Escrow.com), Afterpay (listed on the ASX and has doubled its share price), and Canva (has now grown to 10 million users across 179 countries). Clearly, there's quite a bit going on.

Scott Handsaker, CEO of CyRise, says big things are expected: “Victoria is fast becoming known as the best location in APAC for the cyber security industry,” he says. “Where Australia is lacking in this space is in the commercialisation of ideas. There is so much talk around R&D, which is great to see, but how do we package up these findings and ideas in order to yield better commercial outcomes for the Australian economy?”

Handsaker adds that, although the programme is based in Australia, it’s important to think globally with cyber security, given the scale of threats – including large-scale ransomware attacks like WannaCry and NotPetya – businesses, organisations and individuals face, and the fact threats can come from anywhere. He says a big benefit will be access to industry experts, including Australian Cyber Security Growth Network CEO Craig Davies, Culture Amp CEO/co-founder Didier Elzinga, Dimension Data CTO Debra Bordignon, Bugcrowd co-founder/CEO Casey Ellis, and Australian Cyber Security Growth Network COO Michelle Price. “Our startups will get access to Deakin University’s field-leading researchers, as well as Dimension Data’s commercial experience, and take advantage of this one-of-a-kind partnership to successfully take their ideas to a global market.”

To help get the word out about CyRise, organisers have been embarking on a roadshow throughout Australia. Unfortunately, the roadshow doesn’t include any dates in Aotearoa.

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