UK Government Gives SMEs £1m Cyber Boost

The UK government has announced the investment of £1m into a new grant scheme to help SMEs augment their cyber-defenses.

Partnering with Innovate UK, the government’s Cybersecurity Innovation Vouchers Scheme offers grants of up to £5000 for SMEs to bring in specialist advice to increase their security, better protect their digital assets, and access services from the UK’s cybersecurity industry.

For example, the voucher grants will give companies assistance in adopting the Cyber Essentials guidelines, a set of government advice for implementing strong baseline security. Cyber Essentials is one of the primary components of the wider Cyber Security Programme, launched under the previous government back in 2011, and which has so far seen £860m invested in UK-based cyber initiatives.

The voucher scheme announced was just one of a trifecta of new initiatives being launched with government partnership.

Offering a boost to the jobs market for security is the Inspired Careers website, an online hub to promote cybersecurity as a profession to both new entrants to the sector and those already working in other areas of IT.

Finally, the government also announced its Cybersecurity Knowledge Transfer Partnerships – a fund worth £500,000 jointly offered by the government and Innovate UK. This scheme is designed to encourage research collaboration between business and academia. This will, the government believes, help businesses increase their competitiveness and productivity.

The new schemes were announced by Ed Vaizey MP, UK minister of state for culture and the digital economy in the recently-formed, majority Conservative government.

Speaking at the Cyber Security: Assurance, Resilience, Response conference hosted by thinktank Reform, Vaizey said, “Clearly this [cybersecurity] issue is not going away. We are at the start of this journey. The new innovations we are announcing today show we understand the importance of cyber and we have to continue to invest in cyber. Cybersecurity will remain a priority of the government and we will continue to invest in our growing cybersecurity sector.”

In a Q&A with the audience, Vaizey was quizzed on encryption, an issue on which some of his colleagues in the Conservative department have been criticized on.

But Vaizey claimed, “We don’t want to ban encryption. I have always said that we need to work in partnership with tech companies.”

On encryption, the government and the security industry, “should work together to achieve our mutual goals,” he added.

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