Cyber security will receive a £4 million boost, thanks to a £4 million competition for UK businesses to develop ideas to tackle security threats.
Run by the Technology Strategy Board, it will award funding to the firms with the best ideas. Business Secretary Vince Cable, said: “The growth of the cyber security sector in the UK is a great success story, worth over £6 billion and employing around 40,000 people. Building a strong and resilient cyber space in the UK is central to ensuring that our companies can make the most of business opportunities online, whilst avoiding potentially costly threats to the information they hold and the services they provide.
“Maintaining innovation and growth requires continued investment. Committing a further £4 million will help businesses of all sizes turn their ideas to counter cyber threats into reality. Partnering with industry experts will also increase the opportunities for the UK’s small cyber companies to work together and grow their businesses.”
The goal of the Technology Strategy Board is to accelerate economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation. Sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Technology Strategy Board brings together business, research and the public sector, supporting and accelerating the development of innovative products and services to meet market needs, tackle major societal challenges and help build the future economy.
Speaking to IT Security Guru, Alan Woodward, visiting professor at the Department of Computing at Surrey University, said that he did not believe that this finance was offered to companies of all sizes, instead that the goal of the Technology Strategy Board was smaller companies who had good ideas, but not the funding to develop them from the drawing board.
“Big companies have a research and development budget but smaller companies have ideas but not the funding, so this is meant to be a catalyst to carry them forward,” he said. “It has been seen at Universities where the board is looking for ideas and if a member of a commercial board may think it is too wacky, it is a bit of support and maybe something will come out of it.”
Today will also see the appointment of Andy Williams as cyber security small business champion, who will promote this competition. From the UK’s largest technology trade association techUK, Williams will be responsible for mapping cyber security small businesses, and will set up a UK wide growth project to encourage them to work closer together.
His role will also involve working to showcase the capability of small and medium sized cyber businesses at UK and international events, delivering business advice and establishing an online portal to share information about national initiatives with the cyber business community.
Cable will also announce that Dr Emma Philpott, managing director of cyber and technology catalyst Key IQ, will lead a project to actively work with local volunteers to establish regional clusters of small companies working in cyber security. This network of clusters will link the small and medium sized businesses to national opportunities and events while giving them a collective voice.
Woodward claimed that the UK is good at coming up with novel ideas, but not developing them further, but maybe more help was needed to “bring them out of the tool shed”.
“If you go back over history to radar and the genesis of computing, we have been bringing ideas out that have been very good, but have just needed a
bit of support, and this is what this is all about,” he said.
“Personally I applaud this as the Technology Strategy Board is out to promote this and their whole purpose is not huge with huge amounts of money, but it is meant to be helping ideas grow. If someone has a good idea, and the challenge for the board is finding the good one, and it is better than that one never finding the light of day.”