In 2008 the Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT) was chosen to host one of only seven UK Innovation and Knowledge Centres (IKCs). Funded by EPSRC and Technology Strategy Board, IKCs are a key component of the UK's approach to the commercialisation of emerging technologies through creating early stage critical mass in an area of disruptive technology. Through our Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT), leveraging additional support from Invest Northern Ireland, we are achieving this through our world class research, new value and venture creation and entrepreneurial approach in the area of cyber security.
This unique environment encourages collaboration among academics, researchers, engineers, industry and government to accelerate the results of cyber and physical security research through to commercial application.
Traditionally, universities have researchers and PhD students on three-year contracts and they end up leaving when things are getting to a crucial point. At CSIT we have created a new type of contract, based on the hi-tech business model, to employ engineering and business development staff with extensive industry experience.
Based at the Northern Ireland Science Park, in Titanic Quarter, Belfast, this flagship Centre has helped in the attraction of over 100 high-tech Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and start-up companies. These companies employ more than 2,000 people and is evidence of the wider economic benefits to be gained from translating science into wider business and economic opportunity.
The approach adopted within CSIT contrasts with the more conventional way academic research is undertaken. Our starting points tend to be larger “mission-driven” projects involving sizeable teams for which ambitious and challenging end goals have been identified.
CSIT and HSD are partners within the Global Ecosystem of Ecosystems Partnership in Innovation and Cybersecurity (Global EPIC). This initiative has been founded to enable the future securely through the development and sharing of new knowledge in the field of cyber security – leading to societal, economic and technological impact in a timely fashion. It will do this by building a global community of innovation ecosystems who will collaborate on projects and share expertise through an expanding network of diverse organizations. This initiative will see 14 global ecosystems co-creating and adopting world-changing solutions to high-impact cybersecurity challenges, both current and emergent. The ecosystems involved come from over 10 different countries spanning three continents, reflecting the truly global nature of the partnership.