UK and Israel join forces to invest in cybersecurity start-ups

Data security
18 Feb, 2016

The government's partnership with the Israeli start-up scene will battle cybersecurity threats

The UK government is to strengthen its partnership with the Israeli technology sector, launching a joint research project focusing on cybersecurity in areas such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and driverless cars.

As part of the partnership, the government has set up a £165 million fund to invest in cybersecurity start-ups, and Israeli experts will work with UK academics to research the area and find new solutions.

During a trade mission to Israel, Cabinet Office minister Matt Hancock spoke about the transformation of an "arid desert" into "a Silicon Valley", and highlighted ways in which the UK could benefit from the high density of digital start-ups in the country, focusing particularly on cybersecurity companies.

"New technologies, including digital technologies, give the world and its citizens opportunities like never before," he said. "This connection has helped more people escape poverty around the world, at a pace never seen.

"Yet this new opportunity brings new threats. In the UK, our mission to create better digital public services for citizens is wholly dependent on the ability to protect our networks, our users and our data."

The average cost of severe online security breaches for large businesses starts at around £1.5 million, Hancock noted, and the number of attacks in the UK has doubled in the last year.

Hancock added: "Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility. It requires the engagement of the whole of society. When it comes to protecting our critical national infrastructure, the importance of partnership between government and industry is particularly important."

His comments come after Chancellor George Osborne promised to double cybersecurity funding to £1.9 billion over the next five years, including money to establish a National Cyber Centre to help businesses understand and prevent cyber threats.

Such a centre would make the responses to major cyber attacks more efficient, with incidents being handled in real time, the government claimed.

Hancock added: "We want to create a cyber eco-system in which cyber start-ups proliferate, get the investment and support they need to win business around the world, to provide a pipeline of innovation that channels ideas between the private sector, government and academia.

"We will establish cyber innovation centres to support early-stage companies to commercialise their products. I look to the Israeli model as an exemplary precedent."