Leading Cheltenham cyber firms elevate the county's profile with Portuguese partnership

What started as a fact-finding mission to a Lisbon business community ahead of Gloucestershire's Golden Valley Development has been hailed a valuable boost by the exciting companies from Cheltenham's cyber community that made the trip, and further sign of the growing interest in the county's digital-focused firms.

By Andrew Merrell  |  Published
The Night Summit staged at Factory Lisbon, the digital business centre now forging connections with Gloucestershire cyber firms.

A handpicked cohort of firms from Cheltenham's cyber community has returned from a hugely successful fact-finding visit to Portugal, meeting potential new partners at a Lisbon cyber business centre.

Jeremy Bamberg, of HBD X Factory, the joint venture company chosen by Cheltenham Borough Council to create Gloucestershire's £1 billion Golden Valley Development, picked three firms at different stages of development to make the trip to Factory Lisbon, the business centre in the Portuguese capital.

And all three — Gottaspace and Digital Woof, which are based in Cheltenham, and fast-growing ORNA Inc, which is part of the town's cyber community but Canadian-headquartered — returned to the UK having been chosen to join potentially game-changing business accelerator and scale-up programs.

Martyn Gill, who is based in Cheltenham and a co-founder of ORNA, said the fast-growing north American business had been selected to take part in the first cohort of Lisbon’s Unicorn Factory program — a business accelerator for scaleups based in Factory Lisbon.

'Lisbon is a great opportunity for us to grow our business. Unicorn Factory has been delivering value to ORNA in many ways already, and we are only in the first quarter of the accelerator.

'Pilots, new customer opportunities, investors, local government interest and the network of peers are all examples,' said Gill, whose business is receiving attention for its artificial intelligence-led cyber security incident manager platform for small and medium sized businesses.

'I’ve even been introduced by our corporate mentor, PWC, to the director of the Portuguese equivalent to NCSC (National Cyber Security Centre).'

Gottaspace and Digital Woof, two businesses at a much earlier stage of development than ORNA, also came away with plenty to celebrate.

Johan van Deventer, founder of Gottaspace, which delivers a simple and sustainable way to return your online purchases, said: 'As an early-stage business, we require a strong support network to help us reach our goals.

'Lisbon has developed an incredible ecosystem and community of support. From incubation locations and co-working centres to networking events and business advisors/mentors, we will have access to a wealth of resources.'

Adam Bolas, founder of Digital Woof, an artificial intelligence-driven start-up committed to safeguarding children from online exploitation, said: 'As part of the Startup Lisbon’s Rocket Program, Digital Woof will be introduced to potential investors and funding sources.

'Securing capital is crucial for start-ups like Digital Woof to scale its operations, accelerate its growth, and expand its reach to a larger audience, ultimately promoting child safety on a global scale.'

The visit to the Portuguese capital's business centre, which Bamberg's Factory company helped create, is just one of a number of trips he is spearheading to forge links and raise the profile of Gloucestershire's potential ahead of the Golden Valley scheme beside GCHQ, which will be home to Cyber Central - a new UK capital for cyber firms and future home to the UK's National Cyber Innovation Centre.

The Golden Valley Development has been made possible in part through funding won by local enterprise partnership GFirst LEP.

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