Business secretary Vince Cable announced £4m government funding for a competition to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) develop ideas for countering cyber threats.
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The summit is supported by the UK and US governments and brings together government and business representatives to promote partnerships and projects in cyber security.
“SMEs are responsible for developing a lot intellectual property on cyber defence, but many face the challenge of integrating into the supply chains of bigger organisations,” said Cable.
The Technology Strategy Board will run The competition from March 2015. The government’s innovation agency will fund companies with the best ideas.
Ahead of the summit, Cable said the growth of the cyber security sector in the UK is a success story, worth over £6bn and employing around 40,000 people.
“Maintaining innovation and growth requires continued investment, and committing a further £4m will help businesses of all sizes turn their ideas to counter cyber threats into reality," he said.
“Partnering with industry experts will also increase the opportunities for the UK’s small cyber companies to work together and grow their businesses.”
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Cyber security small business champion
At the summit, Cable announced the appointment of a cyber security small business champion, Andy Williams, an industry expert from the UK’s largest technology trade association, Tech UK.
Williams will be responsible for mapping cyber security small businesses and setting up a UK-wide growth project to encourage them to work together more closely.
His role will involve showcasing the capability of cyber security SMEs at UK and international events, delivering business advice and establishing an online portal to share information about national initiatives with the cyber business community.
Regional cyber security SME clusters
Cable announced a project to work with local volunteers to establish regional clusters of small companies working in cyber security.
This network of clusters will link SMEs to national opportunities and events while giving them a collective voice.
“We are already seeing success with cyber security firms working in clusters to share resources, with the best developed cluster being around Malvern,” said Cable.
“There are other clusters emerging in south Wales, Cambridge and Surrey, and we see clustering as a good way to support innovation.”
The funding will be split equally between two phases of the competition to identify winning proof-of-concept research proposals for automated responses to threats to MOD computer systems.
Phase one of the competition was launched by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory’s Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE) in London on 9 September 2014.
In phase two, funding will be awarded on a per-project basis to the most successful outputs of projects funded in phase one.