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S'pore Wants To Help Cybersecurity Startups Grow With Launch Of Accelerator Hub In April '18

In the Committee of Supply speech today (6 March), Minister for Communications and Information, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, said the government will be “supporting the development of the Innovation Cybersecurity Ecosystem at Block 71”.

This is Singapore’s first accelerator programme focusing on cybersecurity according to this report, and the first “cybersecurity start-up hub” in the region according to the accelerator’s website.

The Innovation Cybersecurity Ecosystem at Block 71 (ICE71) is a collaboration between the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA), the Cyber Security Agency (CSA), the National University of Singapore (NUS), and Singtel Innov8.

The Cybersecurity Startup Hub

According to Dr Yaacob, ICE71’s purpose is to “help promising cybersecurity startups scale and internationalise” as the government recognises cybersecurity as a “fast growing sector” that can generate $900 million in revenue by 2020.

That, in turn, will generate more jobs and opportunities for Singaporeans.

ICE71 is located at BLOCK71 Singapore, the coworking started by IMDA, NUS Enterprise, and Singtel Innov8.

Europe’s cybersecurity accelerator, CyLon, will offer three programmes that cater to startups’ different development stages at ICE71.

ICE71 Inspire is a five-day pre-accelerator programme that helps startup owners test their business idea and feasibility, and acts as a “platform” that provides fundamental understanding on topics from startup creation, funding, to collaboration opportunities.

ICE71 Accelerate is a three-months long accelerator programme for early-stage cybersecurity startups. This programme equips startups with the necessary tools and funds to “test and showcase their solutions”.

If the latter programme is considered a launchpad, then the ICE71 Scale is a “landing pad” programme for international and local startups that enable them to establish operations in Asia Pacific.

The programme wants to groom up to 100 business owners and up to 40 startups over the next two years, and will begin in April this year.

Investing In Cybersecurity

Dr Yaacob also announced that the CSA will introduce a Co-Innovation and Development Proof of Concept Funding Scheme.

This scheme will focus on several key areas such as Internet of Things (IoT), forensics, authentication, and managed security systems.

Singapore-registered companies that can score at least one security end-user project can apply for the funding scheme, and receive up to S$500,000 for qualifying costs.

According to this report, at least 50 per cent of employees must be Singaporeans or Singapore permanent residents (PR).

“This will catalyse the commercialisation and adoption of cybersecurity solutions to address emerging needs,” he said.

“As more services and transactions take place online, it becomes even more important that they are digitally secure and reliable. Cybersecurity is thus a cornerstone of trust in our Smart Nation.”

He highlighted a “strong workforce” is the “most important” in enabling Singapore’s digital economy.

So the IMDA will invest an extra $145 million over the next three years in the TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA) initiative to train the workforce in areas like, cyber security, data analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI).

It will create 20,000 training places by 2020 that will include new sectors like manufacturing and professional services.

Featured Image Credit: BLOCK71 Singapore

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