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San Antonio, Texas, Launches Public-Private Cybersecurity Incubator

The incubator will take advantage of the city’s “strong cybersecurity ecosystem” to help startup companies make new products and technology for the industry.

(TNS) -- San Antonio technology companies have raised $600,000 to create a new incubator program to mentor young cybersecurity companies with management advice, help finding funding.

CyberSecurity San Antonio, an industry-driven program sponsored by the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, announced Thursday the new Build Sec Foundry, located at the Geekdom co-working space in the growing tech district downtown.

“The goal is to create a cohesive ecosystem out of many parts that already exist here in San Antonio that can very effectively support a company’s growth, maturation and go to market strategy,” Will Garrett, the director of CyberSecurity San Antonio and a member of the managing team of Build Sec, said before the announcement.

Garrett said the incubator will take advantage of the city’s “strong cybersecurity ecosystem” to help startup companies make new products and technology for the industry.

The San Antonio area is the largest hub for federal cybersecurity work outside of the nation’s capital, local tech executives say. Bexar County is home to two major Air Force cybersecurity units — the 24th Air Force and 25th Air Force at the Lackland AFB — as well as an outpost of the National Security Agency.

UTSA’s cybersecurity program was also ranked top in the nation by Hewlett-Packard. There are more than 200 cybersecurity companies in the region, including major defense contractors.

Startups, for an undetermined fee, will be aided by the Build Sec managing team — Garrett, Bart Bohn from the Austin Technology Incubator, Bob Gleichauf of Virgina-based In-Q-Tel and John Dickson from the San Antonio-based Denim Group. Other advisers from the technology industry will join them, including representatives of USAA, Rackspace and Assembla.

“Between the core team that will be managing it and an advisory board that is representative of local market leaders and also national leaders — (member companies will be) utilizing those leaders and their access and their networks to meet those milestones and help the company grow in a more accelerated form than they would without this support in their own office space,” Garrett said.

The incubator’s first and only member company right now is Infocyte, a San Antonio-based firm that probes networks for cyber attacks and intrusions. Garrett said he expects more companies will quickly join the incubator.

The 80/20 Foundation donated $600,000 in grant money over three years to fund its operations. Build Sec will be looking for investments from the private sector, Garrett said. The incubator will help startups with office space, data sources, digital tools and advice at first, but Garrett said Build Sec may eventually offer financial support as well.

“There are definitely goals for a for-profit fund that will be attached to Build Sec that would then be the equity-taking arm and would help provide that stimulus,” he said.

Lorenzo Gomez, the executive director of the 80/20 Foundation, said after a Thursday news conference announcing the incubator that the timing of its creation couldn’t be better. Last week, the City Council approved the creation of the Techstars Talent Retention Pilot Program, a four-year, $800,000 retention fund that aims to keep tech startups from leaving the city after they evolve into small businesses.

“We have the academic side figured out; we have the government side figured out; and now we’re ready for the next phase, which is product-based startups,” Gomez said.

The end goal of the incubator isn’t just to get startups from idea to product, though.

“A big focus of this incubator is creating not only better community interaction from the security side, but building an alumni network that comes in, graduates out of the incubator, stays in San Antonio ideally, grows their business and continues to re-engage with the startups that come after them,” Garrett said.

San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor said at the unveiling of the new incubator that the creation of the startup is a great way to create a more prosperous city.

“I think it’s a collective vision that San Antonio be a globally competitive city where everyone has the opportunity to prosper, and this incubator represents a chance for San Antonio to truly challenge itself with the overarching goal of being the national leader in developing new cybersecurity products and technology,” she said.

©2016 the San Antonio Express-News Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.