Tuesday 10 November 2020 5:00 pm

Darktrace boss Poppy Gustafsson scoops up top innovation award

Darktrace chief executive Poppy Gustafsson has scooped up the top prize for innovation at this year’s Women of the Year Awards.

Gustafsson, who co-founded the cybersecurity unicorn in 2013, was handed the award at a virtual ceremony this afternoon.

Organisers cited the cyber boss’ ability to steer Darktrace through critical levels of threats during the Covid-19 crisis.

The pandemic has sparked a huge rise in the number of hackers targeting home workers and looking to exploit vulnerable Brits through elaborate attacks.

These types of attacks now account for 60 per cent of activity seen by Darktrace — up from 20 per cent a few months ago.

Gustafsson is credited with building Cambridge-based Darktrace into one of the UK’s most valuable private tech businesses, securing a £1.3bn valuation after its latest funding round.

The company is now said to be plotting a bumper initial public offering in London next year.

Darktrace, which offers AI-based cybersecurity software services, has built up a roster of major corporate and political clients, including Ebay, Rolls-Royce, Samsung and several NHS trusts.

In addition to leading the tech giant, Gustafsson supports Wise, a charity that campaigns for gender balance in science, tech and engineering.

The innovation award, which is sponsored by Vodafone, is one of five prize categories in the Women of the Year Awards, which has recognised women from all walks of life since its launch in 1955.