A new initiative will see spy agency GCHQ team up with Manchester Science Partnerships, tech security giant Cisco and business accelerator Wayra.

Start-ups attending the initiative will receive the support to expand capability, improve ideas and devise cutting-edge tech products including machine learning, automation and data engineering.

The first GCHQ Manchester Engineering Accelerator will bring Wayra UK and GCHQ together with American multinational tech conglomerate Cisco and science park operator MSP.

Wayra UK is the UK arm of the start-up accelerator which was started in Latin America and Spain in 2011. The company is an initiative of Telefónica's chief executive in Europe, José María Álvarez-Pallete.

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“Manchester has a vibrant tech community. The programme we are running in the city has a broader remit, unlike the London cohort, which looked specifically at cyber security,” said Wayra director Gary Stewart, as reported by the MEN.

The programme will take place over three months and the start-ups will work closely with GCHQ and Wayra to unlock their potential.

“The goal is to help companies to identify technical possibilities of their solution as GCHQ have a lot of great technologists which the start-ups can get access to during the programme,” said Stewart.

It will also feature industry expertise to develop new technology businesses during the three-month acceleration programme.

Four firms have already been selected to take part in the programme: Locometric with its floor-planning app RoomScan Pro, job app Jobseekrs, blockchain-powered ad tech firm Data Choice and retail tracking technology PlaceDashboard.

Last year the GCHQ opened a new base in Manchester at an undisclosed location.