EPSRC and Innovate UK announce £5 million investment in UK cybersecurity research and innovation

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CSIT at night


Funding bodies' support for Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) at Queen’s University Belfast will help deliver a resilient and connected nation.

A major £5 million investment in a world-leading hub for cybersecurity research and innovation for Smart Cities and the Internet of Things was announced today at the 5th World Cyber Security Technology Research Summit, being held in Northern Ireland.

The funding, from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Innovate UK, has been awarded as part of a major expansion of the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) at Queen's University Belfast, will also be used to enhance security in virtual environments and connected devices, and tackle emerging malware threats to detect and prevent fraud and personal information theft from laptops, smart phones and cloud storage.

The £5 million grant, along with £9 million core funding from Queen's, will help the CSIT Centre to continue to grow as a UK Innovation and Knowledge Centre by strongly coupling research with the needs of industry to promote successful economic development. This work includes many collaborative research projects with its industrial partners, the creation and development of three cyber start-up businesses, and input into the creation of over 950 new high technology jobs in this sector since the centre launched in 2009.

Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC's Chief Executive said: Strong economies are science economies, they invest in the science and engineering research that is needed to drive innovation and growth. The potential benefits of the virtual world and the opportunities that interconnected devices offer, for instance in our abilities to monitoring health, energy and maintain security, are vast. However, we need to be able to operate in a resilient and secure environment that can cope with challenge of criminal and external threats. This funding will help arm the UK with the skilled people and techniques it needs to prosper as a nation.

The centre plans to use the funding to build on its industry and academic partnerships worldwide increasing the projected level of investment in its research to £38 million in the next five years.

CSIT will use this investment to drive forward its own research programmes, support the creation of more businesses and jobs, and provide skills and training for the UK cyber security industry, including the creation of a nine-month pre-accelerator program for cyber security entrepreneurs. The Centre plans to recruit 25 additional staff across engineering, research and commercial disciplines.

Kevin Baughan, Director of Technology and Innovation at Innovate UK said CSIT has delivered significant UK economic growth through our original joint investment with EPSRC, contributing to over 950 new jobs in the Belfast cyber security cluster. By extending funding for a further five years, we underline our support for their commitment to raise the commercialisation bar even higher. This will help companies of all sizes grow through leveraging the excellent UK science base in cyber security.

The latest phase of expansion of CSIT builds on its many successes since it was established six years ago. This has led to new technologies for secure machine to machine authentication, a novel mobile biometric authentication solution and algorithms for detecting anomalies in complex networks, as well as the creation of international leading companies such as Titan IC Systems, Sensurity and Activ Wireless.

Professor John McCanny, from the Centre for Secure Information Technologies at Queen's University Belfast, said: This further investment in CSIT recognises how over the last five years we have successfully blended world class research and innovation to deliver economic impact nationally, internationally and regionally. This funding will allow us to further accelerate new value creation in this sector, drive business venture creation through our new pre-accelerator programme and build capacity for the industry by providing it with high calibre Masters and PhDs graduates.

Research excellence at the Centre has been recognised with academic staff receiving the Royal Irish Academy's Cunningham medal (its highest honour), the IET's Mountbatten Medal and a Royal Academy of Engineering Silver medal that Recognises an outstanding personal contribution to UK engineering resulting in successful market exploitation.

Commercial engagements with world leading companies such as IBM, Intel/McAfee, Infosys, Allstate, Chemring/Roke, BAE Systems and Thales have opened up new routes to market for CSIT innovations. SMEs such as RepKnight, CyberLytic and Seven Technologies have accessed CSIT's cyber security research and engineering capability enabling them to scale-up and gain global contracts and recognition.

Queen's University is one of the UK's leading research-intensive universities, and has recently been placed in the top ten in the UK for research intensity in the Research Excellence Framework assessment exercise. In this exercise 93 per cent of the research conducted by CSIT academics was adjudged to be world leading or internationally excellent.

For further information please contact the EPSRC Press Office.

Notes for Editors:

Innovation and Knowledge Centres (IKCs) are a key component of the UK's approach to the commercialisation of emerging technologies through creating early stage critical mass in an area of disruptive technology. They are able to achieve this through their international quality research capability and access to companion technologies needed to commercialise research. Based in a university they are led by an expert entrepreneurial team. While continuing to advance the research agenda, they create impact by enhancing wealth generation of the businesses with which they work. Seven IKCs have been funded by EPSRC since 2007 with co-funding from Innovate UK and BBSRC.

The Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) is based at Queen's University Belfast's Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT) in the Northern Ireland Science Park. CSIT's vision is to create a global innovation hub for cyber security, accelerating new value creation, driving new venture creation and building capacity for the cyber security industry. Find out more at the CSIT website.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK's main agency for funding research in engineering and physical sciences. EPSRC invests around £800m a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change. The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science. This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone's health, lifestyle and culture. EPSRC works alongside other Research Councils with responsibility for other areas of research. The Research Councils work collectively on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK.

Innovate UK is the new name for the Technology Strategy Board - the UK's innovation agency. We know that taking a new idea to market is a challenge. We fund, support and connect innovative businesses through a unique mix of people and programmes to accelerate sustainable economic growth. For further information visit the Innovate UK website.

Reference; PN 17-15