Govt to help cyber security geeks commercialise their ideas with fresh funds

Cyber security academicians in the UK will soon be able to receive grants of up to £16,000 from the National Cyber Security Centre if they come up with innovative ideas that can be commercialised.

Grants offered by the National Cyber Security Centre to academics in the field of cyber security will come from a £500,000 corpus set up exclusively to fund the cyber security academic startups programme.

The new cyber security academic startups programme, which aims to help academics with innovative cyber security ideas to commercialise their ideas and earn money in the process, is a part of the government's £1.9 billion National Cyber Security Strategy.

The overall aim of the National Cyber Security Strategy is to increase government investments in existing cyber security initiatives, to prepare the UK against new kinds of cyber threats, and to make essential services and infrastructure more resilient against other threats such as power failures and environmental hazards.

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The cyber security academic startups programme is being led by Innovate UK in partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Those entrusted with running the programme will start entertaining applications from UK-based academics between Monday, 22nd January and Wednesday, 31st January.

Even though funds to be provided to each deserving academic will be capped at £16,000, applicants will be able to obtain additional funds from the programme if they provide appropriate justification for the same.

'The aim of this competition is to identify the best commercial opportunities in academia with respect to cyber security. Your proposal should include the area of your research, the problem that you are solving and your proposed solution,' read the programme website.

It added that successful applicants will be allowed to participate in a 6-week programme where the value of their ideas will be determined and where the best commercial route to progress will be identified.

Aside from incentivising talented cyber security academicians, the government has also proposed to set up a new Cyber Security Research Institute which will enable universities to work together to improve the security of computers and other devices.

'Our new strategy, underpinned by £1.9 billion of support over five years and excellent partnerships with industry and academia, will allow us to take even greater steps to defend ourselves in cyberspace and strike back when we are attacked,' said Chancellor Philip Hammond.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport is also planning to implement the EU’s Security of Network Information Systems (NIS) Directive in the UK from May this year. The Directive would incentivise operators who take adequate measures to deter cyber attacks, assess security risks effectively and engage with competent authorities and will only cover the loss of service as a result of cyber attacks instead of loss of data.

With the help of the new directive, the government aims to ensure that essential services like electricity, water supply, and health services that have a direct impact on people's lives are secured against cyber attacks seeking to disrupt their operations.