Goldman Sachs invests in Immersive Labs as British cyber start-up raises £6.2m

Goldman Sachs has invested 6 million US dollars (£4.7 million) in a British cyber security firm headed by a former GCHQ staffer.

Last year the Wall Street giant became the first bank to work with Bristol-based start-up Immersive Labs, which builds cyber war games for technology and security professionals, to test the cyber skills of its staff. Other clients include BAE Systems, Sophos and Grant Thornton.

Goldman Sachs led the 8 million US dollar (£6.2 million) total investment along with other smaller private backers and the funds will be used by Immersive Labs to hire more staff to develop the skills platform.

Immersive Labs was founded in 2017 by James Hadley, a former researcher at HM Government Communications Headquarters, who came up with the idea after running a cyber security summer school for GCHQ which taught 18 to 25-year-olds technical skills.

It currently employs about 65 people across its offices in Bristol, London and New York.

Cyber security has become a big issue for businesses following recent high-profile security breaches at hotel chain Marrriott International and technology giant Facebook.

Mr Hadley said: “Large organisations are facing a dual cyber security talent problem; not only is the number of professionals seriously lagging but so is the pace at which their skills are developed. If you are able to recruit the right people in the first place, today’s attackers move so fast your team may quickly fall behind.

“Our goal is to reduce this gap. With increased capital, we can help more companies continue to upskill their cyber talent in a way which keeps pace with the threat landscape.”

Andy Ozment, chief information security officer at Goldman Sachs, said: “Having rolled out the Immersive Lab platform globally ourselves, we are aware of the benefits it brings to large organisations. Continuous training programmes are critical to meeting evolving cyber security threats.”

Robert Hannigan, former director of GCHQ who is chairman of Immersive’s advisory board, said Goldman Sachs’ investment in the company speaks volumes about how much Immersive Labs has achieved to date, and its growth potential.