So the CRC has survived, but the news isn’t all bad. The league table is being abolished (hooray!), it is being simplified further, it will remain under close scrutiny as a policy tool and the tax element is high on the priority list for repeal as soon as the public finances allow. But what does all this mean in real terms? As I live in a rural community I think that agricultural terminology lends itself to the purpose….. (more…)
The BIS-Intellect Cyber Security Showcase runs from 26 November to 5 December at BIS’s office on One Great Victoria Street. The aim of the showcase is to recognise the value of industry-Government cyber partnerships and highlight the UK’s cyber security offering. The showcase, which includes demonstrations from our members, coincides with the first anniversary of Government’s National Cyber Security Strategy. Intellect recently ran an event to mark this anniversary – a talk by Rhys Bowen, Deputy Director of the Cabinet Office’s Office of Cyber Security and Information Assurance, where he gave members a sense of what HMG has achieved with this strategy so far and how it hopes to proceed in meeting its objectives. Broadly, Government has focused its cyber security activities on building internal capability, raising awareness, and developing the skills base. The focus for next year will be to continue building awareness and implementing changes to the education system in order to augment the nation’s cyber skills.
Throughout 2012, Intellect has played a complementary role which reflects the necessity of having public-private sector partnerships on cyber security – an emphasis of both the National Cyber Security Strategy and Intellect’s 2010 cyber partnerships report. Intellect has also continued the development of industry focused and delivered initiatives designed to increase the sharing of threat information between companies to improve the integrity of supply chains. In addition to Intellect’s initiatives, there is a wide range of activity being undertaken by other industry groupings and not-for-profit organisations reflecting the broad relevance of cyber. Despite this rising level of activity and increasing media attention, understanding of cyber remains in its nascence. This is not to say, however, that awareness raising initiatives have failed – rather, a lot of work still needs to be done.
Intellect is working to increase industry’s understanding of cyber risks. We have recently launched a cyber awareness survey, the results of which will be used to inform a study outlining the ICT industry’s awareness and understanding of cyber risks. We hope that this survey will be representative of our members. As such, please consider completing this survey, which is available here, using the password ‘Awareness’.
In 2013, Intellect will continue developing its information-sharing construct for industry as well as launch new initiatives for industry. We also look forward to forging new partnerships with HMG with the aim of assisting Government achieve the objectives it set out in the National Cyber Security Strategy. Central to this joint working will be the ‘Cyber Growth Partnership’ between Intellect, BIS, and the Cabinet Office. Rt Hon Francis Maude announced the launch of the Cyber Growth Partnership in a 3 December written ministerial statement entitled ‘Progress on the UK Cyber Security Strategy: Protecting and Promoting the UK in a Digital World’. Intellect’s cyber security programme will also begin to work across Intellect’s various markets even more, including financial services, smart grids, and telecommunications. In the meantime, if you are in London this week, please stop by the BIS-Intellect Cyber Security Showcase.
In a speech in the heart of ‘Tech City’ last night, Intellect’s Director General Julian David outlined why the UK was not only the ‘tech-hub’ for Europe, but a pivotal ‘test-bed’ for the global consumer tech sector.
Repatriating activities for OEMs is becoming increasingly harder as companies have historically overlooked the damage that outsourcing and off-shoring has inflicted on local suppliers of advanced materials, tools, production equipment and components. In other words, anytime a large OEM has decided to move capabilities, the whole industrial ecosystem around have been affected.
R&D know-how, advanced process development, engineering skills and manufacturing competencies related to a specific technology are all resources embedded in local companies and universities. For example – the knowledge, skills and equipment related to the development and production of advanced materials creates a useful ecology for many industries including aerospace, automotive, medical devices and consumer goods. These ecosystems are often geographically clustered like in Northern Italy, where design intensive businesses have encouraged the development of sectors ranging from automotive to furniture and household products or in Germany, where a strong mechanical engineering base is heavily interlinked with the automotive and machine tool industries. (more…)
On 18 October, Foreign Secretary William Hague announced the launch of a GCHQ apprenticeship scheme focused on cyber security. This announcement marks the latest initiative designed to identify future cyber security experts and improve the UK’s domestic cyber security skills base. The GCHQ apprenticeship scheme is notable, but not unique, in that it is not explicitly focused at individuals with a computer science academic background. This decision appears to indicate that traditional university-level computer science degrees may not be the best means for developing the particular cyber security skills required by GCHQ. It also is an acknowledgement that the UK cyber skills base needs improvement.
The backdrop of this apprenticeship initiative is objective four of HMG’s 2011 National Cyber Security Strategy: ‘Building the cross-cutting knowledge, skills and capability in the UK to underpin all cyber security objectives’. Objective four is comprised of 11 actions designed to build cyber security skills capability across all levels within the UK, i.e., from educating the general public to enhancing skills within GCHQ.
Other initiatives linked with objective four include the announcement of eight universities being labelled as Academic Centres of Excellence in cyber security as well as continued support for the Cyber Security Challenge. These Centres of Excellence will cooperate with industry and GCHQ to set the agenda for future cyber security research and receive funding to support cyber security research. This closer collaboration between Government, industry, and academia will hopefully lead – over the long term – to a refocusing of university curriculums to better meet the needs of Government and industry. The Cyber Security Challenge is a not-for-profit initiative supported by both Government and industry that consists of a series of technical challenges designed to identify individuals with valuable cyber security expertise. As with the GCHQ apprenticeships, the challenge is open to a broad range of participants and designed to encourage the development of a domestic cyber security skills base.
Intellect applauds these initiatives, which we view as valuable steps toward enriching the UK’s skills base. They also demonstrate real progress in meeting the objectives set in its 2011 National Cyber Security Strategy. In addition, from an economic perspective, HMG assistance in enhancing the UK’s cyber security skills base dovetails with an increasing global cyber security job market that is characterised by above average increases in pay. The inclusive nature of these cyber skill initiatives is also a welcome relief to school–leavers and graduates in a difficult job market where expectations of candidates for many positions can seem overly proscriptive.
From both a national security and economic growth perspective, the development of a first-rate cyber skills base is necessary. It is hoped that HMG’s recent initiatives will help to reverse the trend of declining numbers of students pursuing technical subjects at both school and university-level. This, however, over the long term, will need to be supplemented by deeper changes in the UK’s education system if it is to truly take hold.
The government proposed last week relaxing the rules on fast-growing technology firms to float on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) with the hope to prevent them fleeing to America. That’s a good step ahead but much more needs to happen in order to improve the fundraising environment for innovative SMEs and start-ups. The current ‘anti-tech’ culture dominated by risk aversion and fear of failure pervading the City will take years to change, though the government can take the lead in shaping the right environment and generating market confidence. A variety of policy mechanisms to improve access to finance could be introduced, ranging from tax breaks for angels and seed capital to more proactive state interventions in the credit market.
Companies tend to partner with each other when they see a new market but are often incapable of sustaining on their own the huge R&D costs involved. Capital should be made available to encourage risk-taking activities and when banks are reluctant to lend, a state-backed centralised funding route in competition with them could be introduced to counterbalance cash scarcity and match industry’s efforts. In the USA, for example, Small Business Investment Companies (SBICs) helped Intel and Apple in their early days by supplying equity capital, long-term loans and management assistance.
The UK has a strong heritage in specific technology domains such as semiconductor IP, broadcast and control electronics which could unleash innovations in sectors ranging from media, entertainment to smart transport and building automation. The government should therefore promote a culture where business and entrepreneurialism are rewarded and technology is seen as a safe investment. This could be tackled by making available local process technology and manufacturing capabilities via partly subsidised research centres so that SMEs are able to access expensive equipment locally and minimise risks. The Catapult centre model inspired by the German Fraunhofer, for example, needs to be better tailored to SME (especially start-ups) needs, hence should factor affordability, flexibility and quick responsiveness. Alignment of goals can help reduce risk – if UK companies had a large domestic customer, investors would be less queasy about investing at an early stage.
Guest blog by Adrian Moorhouse, Managing Director, Lane4
Sport is, and always will be, a powerful metaphor for business. Fierce competition, winning by the smallest margins, achieving goals, determination and team work are all key components of both worlds. As we reflect on the success of Team GB at the Games, Adrian Moorhouse advises on the key lessons for UK businesses.
On the 15 November, the first Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) elections will take place. The aim of the PCCs is to create locally elected and accountable commissioners. The PCCs are intended to foster greater transparency and accountability of the police at the local and national level, with the aim of increased cuts in crime and greater efficiency within forces. (more…)
February of this year I blogged about Everything Everywhere’s plans to launch the UK’s first 4G network – I told you so! Likely to launch before year end and definitely before any of their competitors. In fact it seems – correct me if I’m wrong – that no other operator could roll out a 4G network until early 2013 post spectrum auction, giving the already powerful EE an olympic long jump on their rivals in terms of marketing. There are already nervous stirings, mutterings and probably screams down the phone to lawyers within rival operator offices following the announcement. But let’s look at the situation realistically.