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Cyber Security Innovation in the United Kingdom

Guest post by Dr Siraj Ahmed Shaikh

Innovation is key if the digital economy is to thrive. Technology-driven and value-driven propositions make a compelling case for it.

Innovation in the cyber security sector plays an important role to enable trust in our systems, secure our cyberspace, and enforce privacy. Ultimately, if we are to build a secure Britain we need to ensure a healthy ecosystem underpinning research, development and commercialisation for cyber security.

The current picture looks promising. In terms of academic research, there are thirteen Academic Centres of Excellence in Cyber Security Research (ACEs-CSR), jointly recognised by GCHQ and EPSRC, each of which boasts a critical mass of researchers, alongside a track record of excellence. These sit alongside several other universities offering niche areas of security research in areas of healthcare, automotive, aerospace and safety-critical systems. Universities are keen to enable commercialisation of such research, with CSIT at QUB serving a glowing example, one that aspires to be a global innovation hub for the sector.

Beyond the doors of the campus, the ecosystem has received a remarkable boost from the venture capital arena to encourage new start-ups. CyLon has led the way with the first cyber security accelerator programme in London. With a physical incubator in Hammersmith and an equity-free financial support programme, CyLon provides for a structured three month programme to give the uplift that new start-ups need in this sector.

All the signs point to an increasingly thriving community. This is important if high-risk ventures are to be encouraged and nurtured into successful businesses. And this has to happen across the ecosystem from established setups such as Level39 to new community initiatives such as CyberY all playing a role.

Not to forget here the important contribution public funding is making towards systematic growth opportunities for a mix of general and niche areas of cyber security. InnovateUK has been at the forefront of this, with CDE not lagging far behind albeit with a primary focus on defence.

And there is more to come.

The Cyber Security and Resilience team at the Department for Culture, Media and Sports is keen to support early stage innovation in the sector through the development of a new cyber security pre-accelerator programme. The new programme aims to address the gap between the early stage and academic research on the one hand, and commercially mature innovation on the other. It will serve to connect early stage ideas into more mature incubators and accelerators.

Tenders will be invited from on or about 24 August 2015 and to assist potential applicants, the KTN is hosting a pre-procurement briefing event to which potential bidders and interested parties are welcome to attend.

For more information or to register visit the event website.

Dr Siraj Ahmed Shaikh is the Cyber Security Lead at the Knowledge Transfer Network.

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Ryan Walker