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Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund

Google, Microsoft back UK government on cyber security

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Major businesses including Google and Microsoft have pledged to help the UK tackle the most damaging cyber security threats.

Up to £117 million of private industry investment will be combined with £70 million of government funding through the modern Industrial Strategy to develop new technologies.

These will range from a new and secure hardware prototype that can cope with cyber-attacks, to software protected from new vulnerabilities appearing online.

The government says that with cyber threats constantly evolving, the best defence in the future is seen as developing innovative solutions that can work independently and protect against threats even during attacks. It also wants to ensure that every UK organisation is as cyber secure and resilient as possible.

Nearly all UK businesses are reliant on digital technology and online services, yet more than 30% have experienced a cyber-security breach or attack in the last 12 months, according to the government’s own data.

For example, hackable home wifi routers can be used by attackers in botnets to attack major services and businesses.

The government says businesses are having to spend increasing amounts on cyber security, up to 20 to 40% of their IT spend in some cases. And as more and more systems are connected, whether in the home or businesses, there is a need for security that is secure by design.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “Digital devices and online services are powering more of our daily lives than ever before, from booking a doctors’ appointment to buying online shopping. While these devices and services bring great benefits to businesses and consumers, they come with the associated risks of cyber-attacks and threats that are becoming increasingly complex to tackle.

“As we move to a more data-driven economy, nearly all UK businesses and organisations are reliant on these digital technologies and online services – but the threat of cyber-attacks is ever-present, with more than 30% of businesses having experienced a cyber-security breach or attack in the last 12 months.

“With government and industry investing together as part of our modern Industrial Strategy, we will ensure that the UK is well placed to capitalise on our status as one of the world leaders in cyber security by ‘designing in’ innovative measures into our technology that protect us from cyber threats. This will also help us bring down the growing cybersecurity costs to businesses.”

This expected joint investment will create projects to develop new solutions to cyber security over the next 5 years, with the aim of applying the findings in real-world markets through dedicated demo-projects led by business.

For example, these demo projects could include testing the new technology in the health sector to ensure a higher level of protection for patient data, or in consumer markets to ensure consumers’ personal data is fully protected as far as possible.

Dr Ian Levy, National Cyber Security Centre’s Technical Director said: “The National Cyber Security Centre is committed to improving security from the ground up, and we have been working closely with government to promote adoption of technology and practices to protect the UK.

“We hope this additional investment will drive fundamental changes to products we use every day. This is vital work, because improving hardware can eradicate a wide range of vulnerabilities that cause significant harm.”

Developing innovative solutions to cyber security will help put the UK at the forefront of the AI and data revolution, in support of the government’s AI and Data Grand Challenge.

Details on the upcoming rounds of funding for this Digital Security by Design challenge, which will likely bring together academics, research institutions, start-ups, SMEs and large businesses, will be announced later this year.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

£33m available for quantum security projects

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The government has invited businesses to apply for a share of up to £33 million to work with others on developing new products and services that exploit quantum technologies.

The second generation of technologies based on new quantum effects promises to deliver more secure digital communication, improved construction and radical increases in computing power.

This, the government says, could transform many business sectors including automotive, healthcare, infrastructure, telecommunications, cybersecurity and defence.

As such, there is up to £33 million available from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to invest in projects that aim to speed up commercialisation of these quantum technologies.

Projects must aim to speed up commercialisation of second-generation quantum technologies and should address at least one of the following areas:

  • connectivity and techniques for securing data in storage and in flight
  • situational awareness including autonomous systems; sensors and detectors for the built environment, transport and infrastructure; imaging and sensing of things currently invisible
  • transformational computing to solve currently unmanageable problems

The competition has 2 strands:

The competition opens on 5 August 2019, and the deadline for applications is at midday on 30 October 2019.

£153 million to help commercialise quantum technology

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The Government has pledged £153 million Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund funding, alongside £205 million from industry, to support commercialisation of quantum technologies.

The funding helping to support businesses delivering quantum-enabled products and help remove technological barriers to productivity and competitiveness in the UK. 

The Government funding will also be supported by £205 million from industry.

Quantum technologies have the potential to revolutionise a range of industries – from cyber security to defence and healthcare – however to maximise the industry’s potential within the UK it needs continual Government support.

The new programme will be delivered by UK Research and Innovation, lifting total UK investment or planned investment in the National Quantum Technologies Programme (NQTP) to over £1 billion.

Four key areas will be approached by the challenge:

  • product and service innovations: a series of collaborative research and development competitions to deliver game-changing quantum-enabled products and services
  • industry-led technology development projects: a programme of industry-managed research activities addressing specific challenges
  • supply chain: feasibility projects focused on innovative components and supply chain elements across the quantum sector
  • investment accelerator: encouraging venture capital for early-stage, spin-out and start-up quantum technologies companies

“The UK is a world leader in quantum technologies,” said Professor Sir Mark Walport, UK Research and Innovation Chief Executive. “The funding announced today builds on the great progress we have made and lays the foundations for a quantum technology industry here in the UK.

“It will ensure that we remain at the forefront of this exciting and evolving field and that we realise its potential, from improved healthcare to more accurate and reliable navigation, that is fundamental to so many services.”

Roger McKinlay, Challenge Director for Quantum Technologies at UK Research and Innovation, said: “Quantum technologies will transform all aspects of our lives from more efficient infrastructure to higher levels of security in the transmission and storage of data.

“The announcement of this significant public funding for the industrialisation of quantum technologies exemplifies the benefits of the Industrial Strategy, both in terms of improved coordination across government departments and also the creation of long-term partnerships between government, academia and businesses. 

“Five years of investment in the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme has given the UK a technological lead which businesses are now ready to turn in to a significant commercial advantage.”

Image by Garik Barseghyan from Pixabay