Cabinet Office announces first Scottish cyber security research centre of excellence

University of Edinburgh one of two newcomers to scheme

The University of Edinburgh is the first Scottish university to be given the title – Photo credit: Flickr, dun_deagh, CC BY-SA 2.0

The Cabinet Office has announced that the University of Edinburgh has joined the government’s network of academic centres of excellence for cyber security.

The network has been running since 2012 but is now overseen by the National Cyber Security Centre, which was established last year.

The centres aim to build the UK’s ability to tackle cyber threats as the government increases its focus on active cyber defence, an approach that was set out in the National Cyber Security Strategy published last November.

In order to qualify as a centre of excellence, universities have to demonstrate that their leadership team is committed to investing in the institutions’ cyber security research capacity and capability and that they have “sustained funding” from a number of sources for future work.

They are also expected to have a critical mass of academic staff working on cyber security research and a track record of publishing research in leading academic journals and have sustained funding.

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The Cabinet Office said that more than 20 institutions applied, 14 of which were successful. The the University of Edinburgh being the first institution in Scotland to be granted the title, and on a visit to the university, the minister for the Cabinet Office Ben Gummer said that the UK needs “truly ground-breaking research to stay one step ahead of the growing threat of cyber attacks”.

He added: “By engaging with business, industry and academia, we will ensure that we develop the skills and research we need to tackle this growing threat to the UK.”

The second university to receive the title for the first time is the University of Warwick, while a further 12 universities have had their status renewed. These include the universities of Birmingham, Cambridge, Lancaster, Newcastle, Oxford, Southampton and Queen’s University Belfast.

Their status will run for five years from June 2017, after which time assessments will be carried out again.

Chris Ensor, deputy director for cyber security skills and growth at the NCSC, said it was “fantastic to see so many leading universities committed to trailblazing improvements to the UK’s cyber security research”.

He added that the centre was committed to working with the universities on cyber security to “improve the way academics, government and business work together”.

The government said that it would work with unsuccessful applicants to “provide guidance and encouragement to help them work towards submitting another application in future years”.


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