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London cyber innovation centre opens

The government-funded London cyber innovation centre is set to open today and welcome the first cyber security businesses as a study reveals that a quarter of UK firms lack the right security technology

Digital secretary Matt Hancock will open the £13.5m government-funded London Office for Rapid Cybersecurity Advancement (Lorca) today.

Speaking ahead of the official opening, Hancock said the UK’s future prosperity will be based on its digital technology and that no technology can work without cyber security, so expanding this sector is critical to the country’s future.

“It is fantastic to open this new centre, where some of our most talented entrepreneurs and innovative companies will develop the cyber security technology of tomorrow,” he said. “This will boost London's booming tech sector and benefit businesses across the country.

“We are investing £1.9bn to protect the nation from cyber threats, have introduced new laws to strengthen our defences, and developed a wealth of free help and guidance for businesses available through our National Cyber Security Centre.”

The new centre, announced in April, is aimed at positioning the UK as global leader in cyber security and supporting the country's innovators to turn their ideas to solve critical cyber security challenges into reality.

It is located in the East London Innovation Centre on the Here East digital and creative campus on the site of London’s Olympic Park and will be run by Plexal, which operates the capital’s largest innovation space and specialises in helping high-tech startups in artificial intelligence, augmented reality and the internet of things.

The centre was developed by Delancey’s DV4 fund and delivered in partnership with Deloitte’s cyber team and the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) at Queen’s University Belfast.

The centre’s opening coincides with the publication of specially commissioned research that reveals more than half of large businesses have suffered a cyber security attack in the past 12 months, and almost a quarter of UK businesses (24%) do not think their cyber security solutions are fit for their needs.

As the business threat of cyber crime increases, the new study of 500 UK C-level executives also reveals that more than half (53%) do not have a formalised protocol in place for cyber attacks.

Most breaches or attacks are via fraudulent emails – such as attempting to coax staff into revealing passwords or financial information or to open dangerous attachments.

Despite this, most of the businesses (70%) surveyed said they have not bought a cyber security system from a startup company or SME in the past two years.

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The reasons why they might not seek external specialist help depend on the size of the company. The largest proportion of SMEs (37%) chose awareness of the technology as the key challenge when implementing a new and innovative solution to cyber threats. This contrasts with the larger companies surveyed, which considered integration concerns as the most significant barrier (47%).  

 Lorca will help some of the UK’s brightest cyber security innovators across all stages of growth to address business challenges and achieve greater impact with their innovative technology.

Ten organisations will make up its first cohort, including B-Secur, which specialises in using biometric heartbeats as a means of authentication, as well as for health and wellbeing purposes.

Lloyds Banking Group will be the centre’s first founding partner. As part of its mission to ensure the financial services sector is sufficiently prepared for cyber crime, Lloyds will be closely involved in selecting and supporting innovators, over and above government funding, with a specific focus on cyber security in the financial industry. 

Lydia Ragoonanan, director of Lorca, said: “The threats posed to businesses by cyber attacks are continually changing. We are proud to be working with industry to understand their needs, with investors who can help develop the solutions scale at pace, and with incredible innovators who are helping secure the UK’s position as a world leader in cyber security.

“By bringing all these things together in our new centre, we will stay ahead and help British businesses grow and succeed.”

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