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The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is to set up a £13.5m cyber security innovation centre in East London, bringing together industry, researchers and investors to identify new security challenges and develop innovative startups to help address them.
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The London Cyber Innovation Centre will be based at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, already home to a growing cluster of technology businesses and hubs, and will be overseen by innovation community Plexal.
The government claimed the centre could create up to 2,000 new jobs in the UK’s cyber security sector.
“London is the undisputed leader of European tech, with billions of investment flowing in every year and world-leading firms developing ground-breaking innovations,” said digital minister Margot James.
“This new centre in the Olympic Park will build on the site’s legacy of excellence and spark a wave of creativity to develop the cyber security technology of the future and help protect the nation’s industry,” she said.
The investment forms part of a five-year, £1.9bn investment programme for cyber security that was first announced by former chancellor George Osborne in 2015.
Startups moving through the scheme will receive tailored support from leading security authorities as they work with larger tech firms to identify critical cyber security challenges and threats, in the hope of securing commercial contracts and investment, and creating the kind of services enterprises can truly benefit from.
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The government hopes at least 72 companies will take advantage of the state-of-the-art centre during its predicted three-year lifespan, and will also get access to international support through the Global Ecosystem of Ecosystems Partnership in Innovation and Cyber security (Global EPIC). Startups not accepted onto the programme would also be able to access the centre’s support and facilities in some capacity.
“The UK has a strong heritage in tech innovation and a fertile business environment for start-ups to grow. But our future international standing as a world-leading digitally-enabled economy depends on a robust and forward-thinking cyber security sector,” said Plexal CEO and founder Claire Cockerton.
“The centre will help this to develop by delivering bespoke business development programmes, engineering resource, professional services, access to corporate buyers and ambitious investors. Our mission is to bring the whole industry together to accelerate innovation, entrepreneurship and business growth for UK plc.”
Plexal, which specialises in startups addressing artificial intelligence, augmented reality and the internet of things, and also recently launched a development programme for women-led startups called Plexiglass, will draw on support from Queen’s University Belfast’s Centre for Secure Information Technologies, the UK’s Innovation and Knowledge Centre for secure information technologies, and tech consultants Deloitte. It will also work alongside GCHQ’s Cyber Accelerator startup programme, which recently started working with a second round of nine new businesses.
Former GCHQ director Robert Hannigan commented: “The London Cyber Innovation Centre will be the launch pad for a whole generation of new cyber security companies, benefiting both the UK’s economy and its security.
“By combining academic excellence, expertise in innovation and access to investment, the Centre is uniquely placed to secure this country's preeminent position in cyber security.”