Immersive Labs
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Goldman Sachs backs security startup founded by former GCHQ researcher

Immersive Labs, a cyber security training platform founded by a former GCHQ researcher, has raised $8m (£6.2m) in Series A funding led by Goldman Sachs.

The Bristol-based startup was launched by James Hadley (pictured) in 2017 after he ran a cyber summer school for teenagers on behalf of the UK’s signals intelligence agency.

Hadley had noticed that the most successful classes focused on ethical hacking challenges and subsequently built Immersive Labs around that model of teaching.

The platform combines threat data with gamified learning and can, the company claims, teach cyber security and IT staff new skills within hours of a threat appearing.

It has already been adopted by a number of businesses, including BAE Systems, Sophos and Goldman Sachs. The government’s Cyber Security Immediate Impact Fund also uses the platform to teach the next generation of cyber security workers.

“Having rolled out the Immersive Lab platform globally ourselves, we are aware of the benefits it brings to large organisations,” said Goldman’s chief information security officer Andy Ozment. “The Immersive platform has helped us hone the skills of the people at the front line of our cyber defenses and identify new talent throughout the organisation.”

Since the company was founded two years ago, it has grown to 65 people and has established offices in Bristol, London and New York. Robert Hannigan, the former director of GCHQ, has also joined the company as the chair of its advisory board.

“It is great to see a company with the reputation of Goldman Sachs getting firmly behind one of the fastest-growing UK cyber security success stories,” said Hannigan. “Not only does it speak volumes of everything the team at Immersive Labs has achieved to date, but also of the massive growth potential the company has.”

Hadley added: “Large organisations are facing a dual cyber security talent problem; not only is the number of professionals seriously lagging but so is the pace at which their skills are developed.  If you are able to recruit the right people in the first place, today’s attackers move so fast your team may quickly fall behind.

“Our goal is to reduce this gap. With increased capital, we can help more companies continue to upskill their cyber talent in a way which keeps pace with the threat landscape.”