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News - 22 March 2009

Funding for technology threat solution

The Government's Technology Strategy Board has invited individuals and organisations to form consortia and bid for £6m of new research investment. The money is earmarked for projects that will investigate how to reduce the security vulnerabilities of the complex information systems on which the digital world is based.

The funding competition is being supported by the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). It will deliver the only publicly-funded UK research into this global concern. It is open to individuals and organisations from any industry or academic sector whose expertise can be applied to help address this challenge. Participants will investigate a critical challenge for modern society and the tools, techniques and services developed will help improve security for the multitude of organisations and individuals that rely on complex information systems for everything from home entertainment, to healthcare delivery and financial transactions. Society depends on a network of complex integrated information systems. These enable us to enjoy the provision of accurate, timely information and reliable services to our homes and business. But there is no way to accurately monitor and protect against their cumulative weaknesses. As reliance on these systems has increased they have become more sophisticated and typically converged to offer richer functionality and lower costs. This is set to continue and accelerate. The result will be more complex but more vulnerable systems as functionality could, in some cases, override concerns about resilience and security. These vulnerabilities present serious potential risks to the security and safety of society and will be tackled by the successful competition participants. "Information is the lifeblood of our day to day existence," says Andrew Tyrer, Innovation Platform Leader, Network Security, at the Technology Strategy Board. "A failure to predict weakness and future vulnerabilities in the way these systems grow and develop could lead to problems in every aspect of modern society. Our competition will seek to address what we consider to be one of the greatest challenges to the way we live and work." The competition will combine academic excellence with the business skills required to turn ideas into tangible impact. The outcome will be a new set of technology-inspired tools, techniques and services, and the creation of a new market for complex system modelling and analysis – which the UK will have the opportunity to lead. The competition is designed to encourage different organisations of different disciplines, types and sizes to work together. Each submission must demonstrate how the participants intend to share expertise to deliver greater results than they could alone. It also aims to encourage SMEs and individuals to participate by providing a series of information days that will help less-experienced parties find out more about the submission process; a social networking service to help interested parties form consortia or find existing ones in need of specific experience; and a fast-track route for submissions valued at under £150,000. By making the competition so accessible the Technology Strategy Board and its partners are hoping to entice a more diverse range of UK organisations to come together and jointly identify ways to meet a global challenge. Commenting on the competition, a spokesperson from CPNI said: “This is not just about technology. Social sciences, pharmaceutical companies, finance specialists and biologists are just some of the potential participants we know who have expertise that can be applied. We are pleased to see that this competition is inclusive because getting a diverse mix of consortia is crucial to the delivery of results with real impact.” The competition formally opened on the 16 th March 2009 and expressions of interest must be submitted by 23 rd April. The deadline for full submissions is 25 th June. Two workshops will be help in March for anyone seeking submission partners or more information about the competition itself. Visit the SEEDA website for more information

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