Digital and technology

Incubator programme launches at Queen’s

The UK’s national innovation and knowledge centre for cyber security launches a programme to help engineer viable ventures in cyber security.

The UK’s national innovation and knowledge centre for cyber security, the Centre for Secure Information Technology (CSIT) has launched a new incubator programme designed to support new cyber security ventures start, scale and engineer minimum viable products with a clear market fit.

CSIT is based at the Northern Ireland Science Park. Established in 2009 with initial funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Innovate UK, Invest NI and Queen’s, CSIT is a critical component of the UK’s strategy for emerging technology. With 90 staff on its books, it is one of the UK’s largest university cyber security research centres. It has developed breakthrough innovations, including novel technology which will be integrated into apps to improve security for online financial transactions; anti-counterfeit technology to prevent internet fraud; and new processors to deliver filtered internet to homes and businesses, stripping out viruses, malware and malicious content.

The centre has also served to accelerate the exploitation of cyber security innovation and has provided a base for an emerging Belfast cyber cluster of companies that have, over recent years, created over 1,000 new jobs.

Recent high profile cyber security breaches have awoken the public consciousness to the significant costs to businesses associated with such events in terms of remediation, loss of customer trust and shareholder value. In November, Chancellor George Osborne announced that UK Government funding for cyber security will double to £1.9 billion by 2020, highlighting the importance of tackling this problem area.

CSIT has established a reputation as a global innovation hub for cyber security. The CSIT Labs incubator programme formalises its successful innovation process and expands it to enable teams from wider UK academia, organisations and SMEs to benefit from its experience, ecosystem and world leading engineering capability. Teams will partake in a managed incubator programme which, uniquely, provides up to six months engineering development resource, to take ideas and promising research in the field of cyber security through to investment and market ready stage.

In March 2015, CSIT announced phase 2 core funding from EPSRC, Innovate UK and Invest NI that will allow it to continue to produce ground breaking innovations and programmes aimed specifically at scaling new UK cyber security ventures

Reflecting on the impact this increased funding will have on CSIT, Principal Investigator of CSIT, Professor John McCanny claimed it would allow other institutions and start-ups to take advantage of the fantastic facilities on offer in Belfast. 

“In securing a further five year funding term for CSIT we committed to raising the bar on growth,” said McCanny. “Through our CSIT Labs programme we plan to enable wider UK academia and start-ups to access our tried and tested innovation process, engineering resource, partner ecosystem and global reach to increase the number of viable new cyber security ventures competing on the world stage. Cyber security is one of the main pillars which supports a thriving and dynamic digital economy. We hope to ensure the UK continues to lead the way in this area.”

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