Govt launches startup voucher scheme for cyber security

Friday 24 July 2015

A scheme that provides small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with up to £5,000 in vouchers to improve their cyber security has been launched by digital economy minister Ed Vaizey.

Businesses receiving the vouchers will also have access to an online skills and learning hub, where they can find out more about the best way to protect their enterprise from cyber attacks. This will be called Inspired Online, and has been created by the government in collaboration with CREST, the industry body for web security professional. The whole project is being overseen by government’s partners Innovate UK.

After relatively low levels of adherence to government guidelines on cyber security were reported, the decision was taken to encourage SMEs to become more proactive in this area, to ensure that they can survive in today’s increasingly digitised marketplace.

The programme was announced at the Cyber Security: assurance, resilience, response conference in London, where it was confirmed that the package of vouchers and online support will come into effect later in the month.

The vouchers themselves are to be spent on professional advice on how to keep your business sufficiently protected online, and are available to micro, small and medium sized businesses.

As part of his announcement, Mr 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."

The cyber security vouchers, worth a total of £1 million, are being distributed as part of a wider government commitment to invest £860 million between 2011 and 2016 to boost the UK’s online security.

Mr Vaizey also stressed the importance of the issue, saying: “This issue is not going away… The cyber threat remains significant, but the UK is well-placed to respond to it. We are also well-placed to benefit, and have the opportunity to grow a world-leading cyber security industry.”

Kevin Baughan, Innovate UK’s director of technology and innovation, said: “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.”

At present, the UK’s cyber security industry is worth £17.6 billion per year, and employs 40,000 people. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport also hopes that its latest initiative will help to encourage the next generation of internet security experts.
In his conference speech, Mr Vaizey also took the opportunity to announce the creation of Cyber Security Knowledge Transfers Partnerships, which will be supported by £500,000 of government funding. This scheme aims to foster collaboration between academic institutions so that they can more effectively develop the advanced technology needed to maintain internet security in the future, and to help deal with the UK’s skills shortage in this area.

By Victoria McDonnell

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