Scottish government offers funding for innovative cyber security solutions

Written by Rebecca Hill on 26 August 2016 in News

A Scottish government pilot scheme aiming to boost innovation in the public sector is offering £15,000 for a developer with a cyber security idea that could be used by government, and has singled out blockchain as of particular interest.

That light bulb moment: Pilot seeks innovative solutions for cyber security problems - Photo credit: Pexels

The CivTech pilot, launched earlier this year, aims to find digital solutions for public sector problems by bringing together industry, public bodies and citizens.

The scheme offers developers and entrepreneurs the chance to compete in open challenges – rather than through closed tenders – with the aim being to bring in new companies and increase innovation.

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The latest challenge, launched yesterday and called the WildCard Challenge, is to tackle cyber security in the public sector.

Martin Beaton, cyber security network integrator for Scotland, said the project was about “kick-starting” cyber security innovation in Scotland.

“We are looking for something with huge commercial potential and want to help trigger a successful business in the industry by giving budding entrepreneurs a boost and the support they need to do this,” Beaton said.

Blockchain bonus

In a statement, CivTech said it was looking for “new cyber security products and ideas that have a clear application for the public sector and significant commercial potential in the fight against cyber threats and IT disruption”.

It added that proposals using blockchain technology would be “specifically welcomed”. This distributed ledger technology has received widespread attention recently, with the society representing local government IT managers, Socitm, saying it could be “enormously disruptive” to public sector services and greatly encourage innovation.

However, Adam Cooper from the Government Digital Service has cautioned against getting too caught up in “the hype” around blockchain, noting that it is “essentially just another database technology” that won’t be applicable to all problems.

CivTech challenge

In its statement launching the cyber security scheme, CivTech said that the previous six challenges, which closed for applications on 1 August and covered environment, health and transport, had received an “overwhelming positive response”.

Beaton said this showed there was a strong demand for encouraging innovation in the public sector in this way.

“It’s all about bringing together public sector organisations and private sector innovation, with the aim of stimulating the agenda and putting Scotland on the cyber security map,” he said.

Applicants can be from any size company, but must be based in Scotland. The idea must be either new or at an early-stage of development, with a clear link to the public sector.

The closing date for applications to the cyber security challenge is 5 September and the winner will receive £15,000 funding and a place on CivTech’s three-month accelerator programme in Edinburgh.

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