UK government launches cyber-security initiatives for SMEs and students

The UK government today launched a new set of initiatives designed to improve SME information security, public and private sector cooperation and to encourage more people to join the industry.

UK government proposes public sector data sharing
UK government proposes public sector data sharing

These initiatives were announced by Ed Vaizey, minister of state at the department for culture, media and sport (DCM) and the department for business, innovation and skills (BIS), at the ‘Cyber Security: assurance, resilience, response' event in central London today, which was hosted by UK think-tank Reform.

In a 20 minute talk, Vaizey touched on everything from government digitalisation, UK cyber-security start-ups, and the skills gap to malware and encryption.

It was here that he announced the Cyber Security Innovation Vouchers Scheme for SMEs, the Cyber Innovation Transfer Partnership between academics and security companies, and the Inspired Careers Hub for getting more people into the industry.

The government has pledged £1 million in backing for the scheme, which will offer ‘micro', small and medium-sized firms up to £5,000 for specialist advice to boost their security posture, protect business ideas and intellectual property. The scheme will be overseen by the government's innovation experts at Innovate UK.

Vaizey said: “We want to help protect UK businesses against cyber-attack and make the UK safest place in world to do business online. The new voucher scheme will offer increased protection for small businesses, and the new online hub will help ensure we have the skilled workforce in place to manage the increased pressures of the digital age.”

Kevin Baughan, Innovate UK's director of technology and innovation, added in a statement to journalists: “The UK's economy is increasingly underpinned by digital infrastructure, so cyber-security is now a critical component. The schemes announced today will give cyber-confidence for businesses and consumers and will help our digital economy to flourish. The UK now has the opportunity to become a world leader in cyber-security, creating the jobs of tomorrow and driving productivity and growth.”

Vaizey also announced during his speech that the government has launched the new “Inspired Careers” online skills and career hub, which was developed by security organisation CREST.

The hub features careers information and advice, internship and apprenticeship opportunities, academic and professional training courses, work experience and senior level vacancies.

The minister also detailed the government's £500,000 Cyber Innovations Transfer Partnership to encourage more work and collaboration between academia and security companies.

More analysis to follow