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Winners of the 5th Global Security Challenge Announced

The announcement comes after 13 of the world's most promising security start-ups went head-to-head at a Dragons Den-style event last week in London, with the first placed business receiving $300 000, and the second placed firm receiving $200 00 in funding.

As reported previously, the Global Security Challenge is an annual business competition for security innovators and researchers, with finalists chosen by security and technology experts in a rigorous selection process.

Whilst the cash prizes are funded by the US Department of Defense, previous finalists have been able to raise additional capital and win new business though the competition.

Last year's SME prize went to UK firm Kromek, while the award for the most promising security startup went to Israeli firm Adaptive Imaging Technologies.

This year's finalists included online security firm iWebGate, based in the UK and Australia, and semiconductor firm DecaWave from Ireland.

And this year's winners were mPedigree and iWebGate

The recipient of $200,000 funding, mPedigree, is a social enterprise start-up from Ghana that is billed as allowing consumers and patients to verify the authenticity of their medicines by sending a free text message of the unique, product-embossed codes.

According to the challenge organisers, across the developing world, especially in West Africa, the issue of fake and counterfeit medication has become a huge problem.

Whilst being as robust as emerging – but more expensive – methods such as EMID and RFID, and far more secure than holograms, the mPedigree approach is widely accessible through basic text messaging, with most Africans owning or having access to a mobile phone, Infosecurity notes.

Bright Simons, mPedigree's president, said that the award is a clear sign that African technology has come of age and that innovators in Africa addressing complex, difficult and unique challenges can, not withstanding limited resources, deliver world class results.

iWebGate, based in Australia and the UK, meanwhile, has been awarded funding of $300 000 for developing an online security platform which represents a virtual, highly-secure reception area between an organisations' trusted network and the internet.

The GSC's organisers says that, owing to the cost and complexity involved, most smaller firm connect their perimeter firewall ports directly to applications/systems on their trusted network.

This is, say the organisers, a risky process, as software and application security software is rarely 100% secure. iWebGate's DMZ platform, however, acts a sandbox firebreak that dumps would-be network attacks into a 'ghost network' that does nothing.

Kim Mettam, iWebGate's owner and director, said that his team is honoured and overwhelmed to win the award. "Even the entry procedures have had major impact on our company, so to win is amazing and will help us bring to the world the vision we have for a safe internet for everyone", he said.

John Morgan from the Technology Support Working Group, the US government agency that provides the prize money, said that competitions like the Global Challenge, are vitally important to addressing issues like crime and terror, which rely so heavily on innovation.

"Instead of putting money into specific areas of research, it invites companies to offer solutions to problems and funds the best ones - a very effective use of funding in a changing area like this", he said.

According to Morgan, over the last five years of the challenge, his team gas identified some really promising technologies that we may not have otherwise come across, and which will be important in the ongoing struggle to keep people safe without limiting their freedom.

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