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Business start up boost

Antony Savvas

A scheme to help people with business ideas start up from home has been piloted in the Luton and Dunstable area, and this month is entering its £200,000 implementation phase.

The government-backed project is the brainchild of the Luton & Dunstable Innovation Centre, a joint initiative between the University of Luton, Luton Borough Council, Business Link and the Luton & Dunstable Partnership, which houses around 56 small, mostly technology-related businesses on four sites close to the university.

The project is being backed by the DTI Phoenix fund, which aims to help an increasing number of people who want to be able to access the Innovation Centre facilities, but who, for various reasons, need to work from home.

Information security company SafeNet is also playing a key role in the project to help with access. 

“At the outset of this project we quickly realised we were going to need some means of authenticating the people trying to access our facilities remotely,” said Mike Anstey, Innovation Centre manager. “SafeNet’s USB-based iKey security token proved an ideal solution to the problem.”

The Innovation Centre programmed iKey with their web address and sent it out to subscribers as part of a start-up pack. When installed on a member’s computer it will automatically log them in.

Software residing on the Innovation Centre website interrogates everyone’s iKey. It extracts their ID information and checks it against the list of project members.

“IKey also fitted in with our concept of having a virtual Innovation Centre online, whereby members visiting the site would see a virtual office building,” added Anstey. “The idea is that different people have access to different parts of the building and they use iKey as a way to open doors into the areas they are authorised to go.

“Eventually we want people to be able to carry out financial transactions and encrypted communications between businesses. iKey makes all of this possible.”

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