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Innovate UK backs IoT hardware development

David Bicknell Published 01 September 2016

£1m available to support UK companies through programmes led by R/GA Media Group and Startupbootcamp; in the US, government agencies told to up their game on IoT security


UK innovation agency Innovate UK has announced two programmes to support 20 UK companies develop Internet of Things (IoT) hardware and accelerate its commercial application.

R/GA Media Group and Startupbootcamp will run the programmes which are part of the government-backed IoTUK programme to support the IoTInternet of Things industry.

IoTUK aims to help business and the public sector to develop (IoT) capability, particularly in areas such as security and trust, data interoperability, investment justification and design development.

Innovate UK said R/GA Media Group and Startupbootcamp will provide access to expertise and to finance and business support services to help businesses bridge the gap between development of a prototype and market viability.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) will invest close to £1m through Innovate UK and R/GA and Startupbootcamp and their investors will bring in additional investment.

Matt Hancock, minister of state for Culture and the Digital Economy, said, “Government investment in the IoTUK programme is helping develop the next generation of technology that will power our economy and transform people’s lives.

“This latest funding boost will help companies bring their fledgling Internet of Things ideas to market and take advantage of emerging global opportunities.”

Innovate UK’s head of emerging and enabling technologies Paul Mason said,“The jump from prototype to commercial viability is perhaps the most challenging in any area of business. This carefully targeted funding will help to ensure that UK companies are better placed to take advantage of the rapidly developing Internet of Things market opportunities.”

Security, however, remains a considerable IoT concern with, in the US, Robert Silvers, assistant secretary for cyber policy at the Department for Homeland Security (DHS), recently telling a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) workshop, that there is a “closing window” in which to address "the security challenges on the front end”.  He added that government agencies must work harder and faster on IoT security.

The NIST workshop discussed trustworthiness in IoT and Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS). Among the most important characteristic of any connected device is trustworthiness—it must be safe, secure, reliable, resilient, and privacy-enhancing. Trustworthiness is one of nine fundamental ‘Aspects,’ or dimensions, of IoT and CPS as described in a recently-released framework developed by NIST’s CPS Public Working Group.

A US report on the seminar in Federal Computer Week quoted Silvers as saying, “I think we all recognise the IoT is not a trend, it's a full-blown phenomenon at this point," he said. "We have, as against that enormous security challenge, a very narrow and closing window in which to address the security challenges on the front end before we are put in the much more difficult, much less enviable position of addressing security against an ecosystem that is already stood up, functioning and created."

He added that trying to bolt on security measures after the widespread proliferation of connected devices "is suboptimal… if not impossible, is more expensive and is less effective than doing it right to start," he said.

Although Silvers admitted that the public and private sectors are making an effort to protect IoT stakeholders,  notably NIST's IoT building blocks and the Defence Department's investment in IoT security, US government agencies, including DHS, he said, "need to work a lot harder" on the IoT security front.  "We need to accelerate everything we're doing," he said. "We need to make tough decisions now because they're not going to get easier."



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