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Queen’s Uni nets £25m funds for cybersecurity research

Kick-start for Northern Ireland

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Queen’s University Belfast has become the envy of cash-starved UK start-ups, to say nothing of specialist e-crime policemen and rival unis, after securing £25m in funding to help it become the UK's leading centre in developing technology to thwart internet attacks.

The new Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) will be based at the Queen’s Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT) in the Northern Ireland Science Park, Belfast. The centre will specialise in research in areas including data encryption, network security, wireless security and "intelligent surveillance technology". It is intended to develop technologies for both the home and enterprises.

Other areas of interest include developing processors for detecting and filtering computer viruses and protecting databases from crackers. Outside of information security, the development of high-definition streaming video services is also on the agenda.

"The new Centre at ECIT will develop secure solutions to a number of particularly modern problems including the protection of mobile phone networks, guaranteeing privacy over insecure networks for connected healthcare and the creation of secure 'corridors' for the seamless and rapid transit of people, thus getting around the need for conventional security at airports," explained Professor John McCanny, director of ECIT, said in a statement.

"Although only four years old, ECIT has already achieved many world-class scientific breakthroughs and helped create many new spin-out companies. The new Centre will realise the full potential of emerging technologies, ensuring Queen’s and the UK is the first to develop such cutting-edge research," he added.

Funding for the centre comes from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (£6.95m), the Technology Strategy Board (£2.5m), industry (£7m) and Queen’s University itself (£8.8m).

Ministers hope the centre will pay back many times its funding costs in contributions to the development of the UK IT economy. UK Minister of State for Science and Innovation, Lord Drayson, said investment in the centre "will foster an entrepreneurial environment where ground-breaking research can mix at an early stage with business and potential customers". ®

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