Cyber security breaches can cost a small company thousands and a large firm millions, which is why Innovate UK (formerly The Technology Strategy Board) is investing up to £4 million in collaborative research and development (R&D) competition projects to tackle the growing risk.

The government-backed agency says it wants to tackle the risks of disruption to internet-enabled businesses and their digital supply chains. Innovate UK said: “Cyber security breaches can severely damage a company's brand and reputation. There are also indirect costs like loss of business and damage to brand reputation, which can have far-reaching consequences.”

Computer security
Innovate UK wants proposals that will help tackle the risks of disruption to digital supply chains © iStock/Pony Wang

It said: “We want to identify and fund industrial research that will strengthen the protection and resilience of data, so businesses and the public can have confidence in the delivery of digitally enabled business products and services.”

Competition proposals must be business-led, said Innovate UK. “We expect to fund mainly industrial research projects in which a business partner will generally attract up to 50 percent public funding for their project costs, with up to 60 percent going to SMEs,” it said.

The competition opens on 23 March, and the deadline for registrations is 29 April. There will be briefing events for potential applicants in Belfast, Cardiff, London and Edinburgh on different dates.

Innovate UK expects projects to last between one and two years and to range in size from total costs of £150,000 to £750,000.