New funding to bring cyber security research to market

By Tim Aldred

23 Oct 2023

Lancaster University

Lancaster University is to lead a new £1.2m project which will see cutting-edge cyber security research transformed into real-world products.

The new North West Cyber Security Connect for Commercialisation (NW CyberCom) project will see six universities capture the latest cyber security innovations.

Together with entrepreneurs, investors, government and businesses, this knowledge will be transformed into innovative new products, services and policy, to better protect consumers, businesses and UK infrastructure.

Alongside Lancaster are the universities of Manchester, Salford, Liverpool, Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Central Lancashire.

It will also be supported by Plexal, a Manchester-based innovation company helping businesses, startups and industry to collaborate with government to help deliver national security and prosperity; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and lead consultancy, CRSI.

Funds for the project have been provided by Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund (CCF).

NW CyberCom will draw on established partnerships with the National Cyber Force and GCHQ to develop an innovation ecosystem across the North West Cyber Corridor and provide bespoke training for university researchers focused on maximising commercialisation opportunities.

The ecosystem will act a platform for sustained cyber focused research commercialisation, bringing together industry, innovation, universities and investment to accelerate growth. It will ensure the North West becomes the “go to” place for companies looking for investment, investors looking to enhance their deal flow and businesses who need access to the latest technology and thinking in the cyber space through an ongoing pipeline of intellectual property emerging from academic research.

This funding announcement builds on growing momentum to strengthen the North West Cyber Corridor and, alongside the National Cyber Force’s relocation to Lancashire, further demonstrates the growing importance of the region as a powerhouse for national cyber security.

It follows Lancaster University’s recent £19m investment into Security and Protection Science – an initiative that will also see Lancaster recruit 33 new cross-disciplinary academics, plus 15 professor in practice roles as well as 10 support staff. It also comes after Lancaster’s move to set up a new Digital Security Hub in Manchester with a consortium of leading cyber security specialists last year, to help foster innovation and growth in the region and wider UK’s digital and cyber security sectors with the ambition of supporting 500 new start-ups and creating more than 1,000 local jobs.

Dr Mark Rushforth, associate director of enterprise and innovation at Lancaster University, said: "There has been fantastic momentum building around the North West Cyber Corridor but until now, universities, businesses and government have been working in respective silos. This project provides the opportunity for the region’s best institutions and sharpest minds to get together, share best practice and pool resources.

"This is a significant moment for the North West to realise a step-change in prosperity and deliver the true ambitions of the region in terms of commercial opportunities and setting a national standard that can be rolled out for the benefit and protection of the whole UK.

“NW CyberCom will leverage the cutting-edge research conducted at North West universities, which has already resulted in the successful formation of companies like Mindgard Ltd, a Lancaster University AI security spin out which recently secured a substantial £3m investment. By stimulating more of this – and at scale - the project will help deliver sustained, positive regional economic impact."

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