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Lorca accelerator enlists startups in fight against Covid-19 cyber crime

The tech accelerator Lorca is enlisting a new cohort of startups to tackle security challenges linked to the coronavirus as the global pandemic triggers a surge in cyber crime.

Business leaders and security experts have reported a sharp rise in email scams and malware campaigns in recent weeks as cyber criminals seek to exploit fears over the viral outbreak and the widespread disruption it has caused.

Lorca, short for the London Office for Rapid Cybersecurity Advancement, said its fifth cohort of businesses would focus on addressing challenges “such as securing an increasing number of remote workers, the rise of disinformation and the need to secure the digital citizen”.

Saj Huq, the programme director responsible for Lorca, said in a statement that “the current global pandemic has underlined and increased our reliance on technology. And with this, it has brought very real cyber security challenges to the fore. This is a time to support the cyber security innovations that our digital world needs most and we look forward to enabling this next wave of high- potential SMEs to scale and succeed.”

Based in the property developer Delancey’s Plexal “innovation centre” in the Olympic Park, Lorca launched in June 2018. It is supported by £13.5m of funding from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Startups that secure a place on the year-long programme don’t receive funding from Lorca, but the organisation says they benefit from industry and university contacts. The programme is run in partnership with the professional services giant Deloitte and Queen’s University Belfast’s Centre for Secure Information Technologies.

Lorca forms one part of the government’s £1.9bn cyber security strategy. The programme’s managers have been tasked with supporting 72 high-growth security companies, with the aim of creating 2,000 jobs and attracting £40m of venture capital funding by 2021. Lorca has already surpassed its investment target, with the companies raising a total of £86m. But it is yet to release figures on the number of jobs created through the initiative.