Academic Centres of Excellence in Cyber Security Research

The Academic Centres of Excellence in Cyber Security Research (ACEs-CSR) scheme is sponsored by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and Research Councils UK (RCUK).

It is one of a number of initiatives outlined in the UK Government's National Cyber Security Strategy 'Protecting and Promoting the UK in a Digital World'. The Strategy describes how Government is working with academia and industry to make the UK more resilient to cyber attacks.

The scheme aims to:

  • enhance the quality and scale of academic cyber security research and postgraduate training being undertaken in the UK;
  • make it easier for potential users of research to identify the best cyber security research and postgraduate training that the UK has to offer;
  • help to develop a shared vision and aims among the UK cyber security research community, inside and outside academia.

Each ACE-CSR is required to meet tough minimum standards:

  • a commitment from the university's leadership team to support and invest in the university's cyber security research capacity and capability;
  • a critical mass of academic staff engaged in leading-edge cyber security research;
  • a proven track record of publishing high-impact cyber security research in leading academic journals and conferences;
  • sustained funding from a variety of sources to ensure the continuing financial viability of the research team's activities.

EPSRC and NCSC have managed four annual calls to recognise ACEs-CSR. There is no limit on the number of institutions which might receive recognition: it is the intention of the sponsors that all those universities which meet the criteria will be invited to join the scheme. ACEs-CSR are initially recognised up to 30 June 2022.

Fourteen universities are currently recognised:

Each ACE-CSR is awarded a grant from EPSRC, giving them access to around £20000 each year to support a range of activities, in particular engagement with research users. The technical areas of activity covered by the scheme are given in the call document - Scheme to recognise Academic Centres of Excellence in Cyber Security Research.

2011 round assessment

An assessment panel was convened on 12-13 March 2012 to conduct the first round of evaluations. Its membership was:

  • Mr Stuart Aston, Microsoft
  • Mr Paddy Francis, Cassidian
  • Professor Steve Furber, University of Manchester (Chair)
  • Professor Nick Jennings, University of Southampton
  • Professor Fred Piper, retired, formerly Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Mr Martin Sadler, HP

Representatives of government departments with interests in cyber security were also members of the assessment panel.

2012 round assessment

An assessment panel was convened on 11 February 2013 to conduct the second round of evaluations. Its membership was:

  • Dr Robert Ghanea-Hercock, BT
  • Professor Chris Hankin, Imperial College (Chair)
  • Mr Paul King, Cisco Systems
  • Professor Keith Martin, Royal Holloway, University of London

Representatives of government departments with interests in cyber security were also members of the assessment panel.

2014 round assessment

An assessment panel was convened on 16 March 2015 to conduct the third round of evaluations. Its membership was:

  • Mr Rod Chapman, Altran UK
  • Professor Keith Martin, Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Professor Mark Ryan, University of Birmingham

Representatives of government departments with interests in cyber security were also members of the assessment panel.

2016 round assessment

An assessment panel was convened on 15-16 February 2017 to conduct the fourth round of evaluations. Its membership was:

  • Dr Arosha Bandara, Open University
  • Dr Natalie Coull, Abertay
  • Professor John Clark, York
  • Professor Steve Furber, University of Manchester (Chair)
  • Professor Steve Furnell, Plymouth
  • Cath Goulding, Nominet
  • Sian John, Symantec
  • Kevin Jones, Airbus
  • Martin Sadler, Independent
  • Professor Vesna Brujic-Okretic, Kingston
  • Ollie Whitehouse, NCC Group

Representatives of government departments with interests in cyber security were also members of the assessment panel.