Launch of Two National Cyber Innovation Centres
In November 2015, the Chancellor announced that the Government would establish two Cyber Innovation Centres. These will be places where innovators and cyber start-ups, from small scale CEO companies to more established SMEs, can base themselves as they strive to develop products, concepts and ideas. Both innovation centres are intended to foster an increase in the number of UK companies able to grow their business to a critical mass and compete internationally. The Chancellor also announced that one of the centres would be located in Cheltenham and Ministers have since agreed that the second centre will be based in London. Ministers have also expressed a strong desire for an interim version of the Cheltenham centre to open by the end of this calendar year.
Design and remit
Both centres will be comprised of a physical space that will house an accelerator facility, access to specialist business support such as mentoring and attracting investment, and expert technical advice. The physical space will be designed to support collaboration and provide facilities such as high power computing, alongside facilities for companies to test and demonstrate their products. The centres will also help innovators focus on developing solutions to real world problems by compiling ‘problem lists’ of challenges faced by end users in both the private sector and in government.
Both centres will share the same design DNA while capitalising on the benefits of their location: Cheltenham and London. Both centres will be focused on early stage companies and we will put in place structures to ensure they are complementary. Although they will be concentrated in two discrete locations, we consider both centres to be national innovation centres serving the whole of the UK and a key component in growing the cyber security ecosystem.
Delivering the Innovation Centres
The management and delivery of both centres will be via third parties chosen through competitive procurement exercises. Government has already launched a competition to select a delivery partner to run the accelerator facility in the Cheltenham centre. They have also secured a temporary space in Cheltenham to house that facility, and expect the first cohort of companies to be enrolled in November/December 2016. They will then look to establish a more permanent facility in Cheltenham in the future. Procurement of the London centre will commence over the summer, with a view to its formal opening in the second quarter of 2017.
Funding for the Innovation Centres will come from the National Cyber Security Programme for its five-year duration, after which it is expected that both centres will be self-sustaining, utilising private sector investment. Various metrics will also be devised in collaboration with the respective delivery partner(s) to assess the effectiveness of the centres. These include:
- the number of successful new products created and investment attracted into these products;
- the amount of venture capital investment firms receive;
- the success of start-ups progressing to other parts of the wider ecosystem;
- and ultimately the success of companies securing new government/private sector contracts.