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GCHQ and Wayra launch the first Manchester Engineering Accelerator!

Since GCHQ made the announcement that they would be creating a new home in Manchester, the organisation has made a concerted effort to become an integral force-for-good within the region's digital and tech sector.

GCHQ, as well as supporting Manchester Digital's Digital Her: Inspire & Empower Roadshow, have also set up the GCHQ Manchester Engineering Accelerator – a programme that will enable the organisation to become part of the fabric of Manchester's tech community.

The programme will see four start-ups from the Greater Manchester area take part in an intense three-month accelerator programme delivered by the government's intelligence and security organisation, GCHQ and Telefónica’s innovation arm Wayra. They are joined by IT heavyweight Cisco and the UK's leading science park operator Manchester Science Partnerships (MSP).

Discussing the programme, Manchester Digital's Managing Director Katie Gallagher said "When large companies relocate to the region, understanding our ecosystem, playing a role in stimulating the supply chain and supporting smaller businesses really magnifies the positive impact and reach of the investment. The GCHQ Manchester Accelerator provides startups with access to unique expertise and support that will help them to build unique and scalable products and services. The move will also help to build Manchester’s reputation as a leading technology hub, adding significant weight to our burgeoning reputation as a centre for cyber expertise."

The programme kicked off with a launch event held in CityLabs 1.0 on 9th January. The GCHQ Director General for Technology was joined by Andy Burham (Mayor), Sir Richard Leese (Leader of Manchester City Council), Gary Stewart (Director Wayra UK) and Rowena Burns (CEO of MSP) in launching the Accelerator and welcoming the 4 companies taking part.
GCHQ Director General for Technology described how “Manchester gave me some of the best years of my life as an engineering undergraduate. Back then, I saw first-hand how brilliant the technology talent was in the North West. It still is today and I am really excited about GCHQ’s partnership with Wayra and our new Accelerator in Manchester. It gives us a chance to tap into that talent and use it to help us with some of our hardest problems. It puts Manchester right into the heart of GCHQ’s mission to keep the UK and our digital homeland safe and secure.”

Gary Stewart, Director of Wayra UK said: “Manchester has a vibrant tech community. We wanted to work with a diverse range of companies that are developing interesting technological solutions. The start-ups will work closely with GCHQ and Wayra to unlock their potential. The programme is an example of how innovative collaboration, which Manchester is renowned for, can help get exciting tech ideas off the ground.” He added: ”If we find a company that is really interesting and has the potential to become the next WhatsApp or Netflix, we can help them to scale by giving them access to Telefonica’s network of customers and markets.”

The GCHQ Manchester Engineering Accelerator fuels innovation in the software engineering sector by providing the selected start-ups and entrepreneurs unique access to the world-class personnel and technological expertise of GCHQ, as well as the Telefónica global business network, which includes heads of state, corporate leaders, investors, serial entrepreneurs and even royalty.

The accelerator will build on Manchester’s historic roots set in the industrial revolution preserves its unique engineering heritage. This northern economic powerhouse has proven itself as a hub for innovators and problem-solvers and the accelerator aims to highlight that.

The four start-ups selected for the Accelerator are:

DataChoice - A blockchain powered programmatic ad technology that rewards users for their data and allows them to take control of their personal data online.

Locometric - Founded by a serial entrepreneur Max Christian, offers the most effective way to model and visualize buildings for monitoring and control.

JobseekrsApp - The world's 1st offline-enabled, video interactive, job & culture-fit matching marketplace.

PlaceDashboard - actionable insight, performance indices and benchmarking of retail and leisure locations.