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The Technology Strategy Board is to invest up to GBP10 million in research projects that will help accelerate the development and deployment of more secure and trustworthy information systems.

The aim of the Trusted Services competition for funding, which opens in May, is to encourage British companies to develop tools, techniques and services that will target the increasing risks that consumers, businesses and public-sector organisations face, while also providing significant market opportunities to build a strong capability base in the UK.

Explaining the background to the competition, Andrew Tyrer, who leads the Technology Strategy Board’s work on network security, said: ‘When we do business face to face or on the phone, we can often sense when we can and cannot trust other people.

‘When dealing with strangers we usually know when we need to be cautious, but the electronic world of digital services has not yet developed ways to replicate our senses and warn us when things are not right.’ He added: ‘This funding competition will seek innovative solutions for trusted and trustworthy tools, technologies and methodologies in public and private sectors, for use within the digital economy.’ Working closely with other bodies in the area of Trusted Services, such as the Office of Cyber Security, Directgov, NHS Choices and Business Link, the Technology Strategy Board has identified the high-level challenges that the new research needs to address.

These include increasing understanding of trusted and trustworthy digital systems, and subsequently improving their management, the formation of new (or expansion of existing) identity business services and the acceleration of their deployment to market.

Jayne Nickalls, chief executive officer for Directgov, said: ‘The digital era creates new manifestations of an age old problem – what and who can you trust? ‘Solving this problem requires innovative thinking about how people and organisations cooperate through digital channels and how security technologies can be applied through devices that are convenient and easy to use.

She added: ‘The Technology Strategy Board competition will facilitate innovation in this area and Directgov is pleased to support it.’ The GBP10m to be invested in the RandD includes GBP2m from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and GBP300,000 from the Economic and Social Research Council.

In addition to full-scale RandD projects that may take between one and three years to complete, the Technology Strategy Board is keen to receive applications from SMEs or micro companies for ‘fast track’ projects costing below GBP150,000 that will take up to 12 months to complete.

The announcement of the Trusted Services funding competition comes on the day that the Prime Minister set out the action the government is taking to ensure that Britain is at the forefront of the next stage of the digital revolution, including ensuring that superfast broadband reaches every home in the UK by 2020.

He also set out how the government can save billions of pounds a year and improve public services at the same time, by using new digital opportunities to create innovation and personalisation in the delivery of public services.

Technology Strategy Board

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