The UK government has announced an initiative that will see it join forces with some of the country’s hottest start-ups to develop technologies that will help protect the UK from cyber attacks.
DCMS and GCHQ will partner with Telefonica’s Wayra start-up accelerator program to help UK cybersecurity start-ups grow and develop their technologies. Companies joining the scheme will get access to experts and technologies from GCHQ. This will allow them to, “expand capability, improve ideas and devise cutting-edge products to outpace current and emerging threats,” DCMS said in a statement.
This is the first step in the government’s plan to build two “world-leading innovation centres” as part of its £1.9bn National Cyber Security Programme. The first one is due to open in Cheltenham, which is where GCHQ is based, later this year. The second Innovation Centre will open in London at some point next year.
Both Innovation Centres are being backed with £50 million of DCMS funding.
“We are making progress in our ambitious programme to support innovation in cyber security, grow the UK’s thriving sector and protect Britain from cyber attacks and threats,” said Minister of State for Digital and Culture, Matt Hancock MP. “Our two new Cyber Innovation Centres will bring together government, academic and business expertise, and will be invaluable in helping support start-up companies and develop world-class cyber technology.”
Chris Ensor, Deputy Director for Cyber Skills and Growth, GCHQ, added: “Combining the knowledge and experience of GCHQ staff with some of the country’s newest start-ups and most creative entrepreneurs is really powerful combination and one I’m confident will deliver benefits to the cyber security of the UK.”
“Cyber security is a team sport and as threats become more prolific and more complex, we should be sharing our experiences and views because there’s so much we can learn from each other,” Ensor said.
GCHQ has taken a very active role in developing the next generation of cyber security experts. In 2014 it announced certification of six universities to run Master's degree courses in cyber security to improve to pool of talent available, followed by six more in 2016. In 2013 it joined forces with BT and NCA to run a competition to find skilled cyber security experts.