The UK Government has announced £18.9 million investment in NI’s Cyber Security industry, including £11 million Government funding through the New Deal for Northern Ireland, to develop a pipeline of cyber security professionals in NI.
The investment, announced by Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Steve Baker MP, will see the creation of a new Cyber-AI Hub at the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) in Belfast, creating jobs and supporting the research and development of AI-enabled cyber security projects.
Following the launch, Minister Baker visited NVIDIA, one of the companies benefiting from the close collaboration at CSIT, to learn more about the work being done in their Belfast R&D centre to enhance the security and performance of NVIDIA’s networking solutions. The company, a global leader in AI, will engage with the new hub on collaborative research into AI-based cyber threat intelligence.
The funding will help ensure a pipeline of world-class cyber professionals, with the creation of a Doctoral training programme and Masters bursaries helping to deliver on the Government’s pledge of 5000 cyber professionals in NI by 2030, as well as supporting the Government’s £2.6bn National Cyber Strategy.
An additional £3.3 million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council will support the delivery of the next phase of the UK’s Innovation and Knowledge Centre at CSIT as it continues linking industry, government and academic expertise to promote economic growth.
With £4.6 million from project partners, the funding builds on NI’s impressive track record of attracting investment in its Cyber Security sector, ahead of Belfast hosting the UK’s flagship cyber security event, CyberUK 2023 in April.
Speaking at the event, Minister of State for Northern Ireland Steve Baker said: “This funding will help to create jobs and strengthen Northern Ireland’s economy, ensuring NI continues to lead the way in cyber security.
“We have world-class talent and expertise in NI, and the Government is committed to developing cyber security professionals, here and across the UK.
“The funding will have an immediate positive impact on NI’s cyber sector, and with Belfast hosting the UK’s leading cyber security conference in April, I’m looking forward to seeing NI’s deserved recognition as a global cyber security hub.”
Department for Science, Innovation and Technology Minister Paul Scully, said: “Northern Ireland’s cyber security firms play a huge role in the UK’s thriving and world-leading tech industry.
“We’re investing millions so people across Northern Ireland can gain the skills for exciting careers helping people and businesses defend against cyber threats.”
President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast, Professor Ian Greer, said: “This funding boost will have a hugely positive impact on the cyber security sector locally, nationally and globally.
“Investing in a Doctoral Training Programme is vital for the future of our society. We are investing in the skills of the next generation of leaders in cyber security, as well as progressing the Northern Ireland economy.
“Over the last 15 years, Queen’s University has helped to put Northern Ireland on the map for digital innovation. We are proud of the work that takes place through the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) and are looking forward to further developing cutting-edge research through the broader Belfast Region City Deal-funded Global Innovation Institute.”
For UK Research and Innovation, Professor Dame Lynn Gladden, EPSRC Executive Chair said: “For the past 13 years the Centre for Secure Information Technologies has played a key role in helping the UK to respond to emerging cyber security threats. It is also at the heart of a thriving innovation ecosystem in Northern Ireland involving more than 100 companies and providing 2,300 people.
“Together with the Cyber-AI hub this additional funding announced today will build on this success to promote further growth and support further cutting edge research that will benefit us all.”
Cyber-AI Hub will see the creation of a UK Government Northern Ireland based cyber engagement lead, joining DSIT colleagues in Northern Ireland. This role, similar to positions in other regions in the UK, will engage directly with the Northern Ireland cyber sector to support the delivery of the government’s national cyber security and levelling up strategies as well as exploring opportunities for further UK government funded innovation and skills initiatives.
The funding will also allow for the continuation of the NI Cyber Security Snapshot by QUB. This will highlight opportunities and challenges for the Northern Ireland Cyber Security sector to be identified on a regular basis, further enabling growth in the sector.