By Bob Gourley
Virginia has long had a very rich innovation ecosystem that includes great universities, a fantastic community which encourages continued innovation, great access to venture capital, tremendous job opportunities in the most technical activities by the US government, and a state that is known for being conducive for business growth. An exemplar for the Commonwealth’s great attitude and strong support of innovation has been the Center for Innovative Technology, long known as a place where innovators gather.
That goes for all high tech, but Virginia has also had very virtuous qualities when it comes to cyber security firms.
Now there is another very exciting contributor to this rich ecosystem. The nation’s premier market-centric cybersecurity accelerator, Mach37, is now bringing focus and strong support to the nation’s cybersecurity needs by accelerating continuous cohorts of high tech firms. Mach37 was first officially announced in April 2013, and now has achieved full operational capability and has officially started its first cohort.
Here is more on Mach37 from their website:
The MACH37™ Accelerator is an intensive 90-day program that transforms innovative cybersecurity product ideas into validated, investment grade early stage companies that are positioned to provide the next generation of cyber security technologies. Acceptance into the Accelerator is highly competitive, with only a handful of companies achieving acceptance for each of the spring and fall cohort sessions.
MACH37™ delivers strong development value for early stage companies through access to an extensive network of cyber security professionals, investors and early technology adopters who are committed to improving cyber defense and security through innovation.
At the completion of the session, cohort companies will present to professional investors to secure company funding. MACH37™ companies are members for life with ongoing access to network resources and growth support.
Mach37′s official opening was Thursday 12 September. The events of the day included a presentation by Governor McDonald, then later a ribbon cutting (photo here). The first five companies to move through the Mach37 process were announced.
This is really an exciting time to be in the cybersecurity technology community and to be in the Northern Virginia area. Lots is going on here.
Here is more from the official release:
Governor McDonnell Tours, Opens New MACH37™ Cyber Accelerator at CIT
– Governor announces first MACH37 companies, and CIT and Virginia Tech partnership for Cyber Test Range at Tech’s Hume Center –
HERNDON – During a tour with industry and university cybersecurity leaders, Governor Bob McDonnell announced today the opening of the MACH37™ Cyber Accelerator and the first companies to be accepted in the accelerator. The MACH37 Cyber Accelerator is America’s first public-private, and market-centric cybersecurity accelerator located at the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT).
The accelerator is a program designed to facilitate the creation of the next generation of cybersecurity companies in Virginia. Supported by Governor McDonnell, the General Assembly appropriated $2.5 million to CIT to start and operate the accelerator.
While there, Governor McDonnell also announced a new partnership between CIT and Virginia Tech to deploy a cyber test range to facilitate the testing and development of new cybersecurity products from MACH37™ portfolio companies and support Virginia Tech research and education activities.
Governor McDonnell said, “As part of our economic development agenda, we are working to bring greater investment into the rapidly growing technology industries such as cybersecurity, as well as encourage companies and investors to look to Virginia. The MACH37 Cyber Accelerator will increase our public-private cybersecurity assets in Virginia. This program works by leveraging our resources to accelerate new ideas and products that launch new cybersecurity companies in Virginia. I appreciate the leadership of Secretary Jim Duffey, and the support of Speaker of the House Bill Howell, Delegate Tag Greason, Senator Ryan McDougle, Virginia Tech President Charles Steger, Northern Virginia Technology Council President Bobbie Kilberg and Vice President Josh Levi for the creation of MACH37™ Cyber Accelerator in the 2013 General Assembly session. It was truly a collaborative engagement of industry and government leaders working together to create an opportunity that will drive innovation and entrepreneurship throughout the Commonwealth and make Virginia the trusted leader in developing cybersecurity solutions.”
The MACH37™ Cyber Accelerator is modeled after existing accelerators, such as the Y Combinator, TechStars and 500 Startups, but specializes in launching cybersecurity startup companies. The program consists of two 90-day sessions per year. Participants receive an initial company investment from the CIT GAP Fund upon acceptance to the program, and at the end, companies make Demo Day presentations to professional investors. If they are successful, they receive a second investment from the CIT GAP Fund and private investors.
In addition to establishing a cyber focus, MACH37™ offers a highly integrated network of hundreds of cybersecurity experts to help emerging startups.
Jim Duffey, Virginia’s Secretary of Technology, said, “This sophisticated network of cyber experts, technologists and investors is crucial to the accelerator’s ability to reduce startup development time. The network is a valuable resource that stays with entrepreneurs from the beginning of the program through the early years of development.”
Rick Gordon, a leader in the cybersecurity industry, was hired in July as the Managing Partner of MACH37™. Joining him as General Partner is Dan Wooley, who comes from Dell, and Ledger West, who serves as Associate Partner.
Speaking about the new CIT-Virginia Tech partnership, Virginia Tech President Charles Steger said, “The research programs at the Hume Center and the MACH37™ Cyber Accelerator provide the perfect intersection for commercializing research and advancing new technology companies. This partnership delivers significant value to early stage companies that require testing resources and to cyber students engaged in learning the next generation of cyber technology.”
First Class of Companies
The following companies are the first partners in the MACH37™ program:
- Cypherpath, CEO Kevin Rogers, Herndon, Va. – Cypherpath brings a new generation of services built around their virtual cyber test range and virtual cloud, which provides teams with the ability to create, modify, view and control virtualized environments independently and collaboratively. This new generation of technology increases the ability of Chief Information Security Officer’s to train, exercise, test, model and simulate through on demand replication of cyber infrastructure. Cypherpath provides the only on demand platform for realistic cyber-experiences.
- Key Cybersecurity, Inc., CEO Shawn R. Key, Dumfries, Va. – Key Cybersecurity brings over 60 years of combined strategic thought leadership in cyber forensics to the ever-expanding security threat market. CyberMerlin, Key’s flagship product, employs algorithms and forensics investigative technologies that patrol enterprise environments and report abusive behavior, providing a proactive system that enhances network security.
- Pierce Global Threat Intelligence, CEO Roy Stephan, Dunn Loring, Va. – Pierce creates tailored and automated threat analysis based on each company’s individual enterprise network, ecosystem traffic and flow data. The real time, raw, previously expensive and cumbersome threat data is then filtered and prioritized based on the individual company ecosystem, giving companies the ability to react to threats with a greater level of confidence.
- CyberLingua, Acting CEO Jim Hunt, Tyson’s Corner, Va. – CyberLingua uses technologies developed over decades in the U.S. intelligence community to identify zero-day threats before they can cause damage. Instead of manually tracking logs or anomalies, analysts will now be able to identify and synthesize patterns and weak signals in cyber-data and their associated combinations of risks underlying advanced persistent zero-day threats.
- Sikernes, CEO Ethan Allen, Bozeman, Mt. – Silkernes provides a Cybersecurity Analytics Platform (CAP) for organizations to analyze and understand the effectiveness and efficacy of cybersecurity expenditures. Using predictive analytics, and leveraging Big Data, the Sikernes platform fills organizational gaps and gives organizations quantitative information to control security budget planning, security execution, and resource allocation thus promoting organizational transparency while maximizing security strategy ROI.
About the CIT-Virginia Tech Partnership
The CIT-Virginia Tech partnership agreement allows leaders of CIT’s MACH37™ Cyber Accelerator and Virginia Tech’s Hume Center for National Security and Technology to define and develop a networked, remotely-accessible virtualized test environment housed in the Hume Center at Virginia Tech’s Research Center in Arlington, Va.
The cyber test range is targeted to be operational in the fall of 2014 for companies entering the MACH37™ program and university research projects. Access to the test facility will be network enabled to allow testers to be resident at their company location.