Establishing a Research Centre for Securing Digital Technologies at the Periphery

EPSRC, on behalf of UKRI, is seeking to make a step-change in the broad research areas of cybersecurity, designing in trust, privacy, security and resilience associated with the Internet of Things (IoT) through this call. This will establish a Research Centre focusing on Security of Digital Technologies at the Periphery (SDTaP). This will be a centre of excellence to provide a national capability to enable the UK to become a world-leader in IoT security and associated systems security through new knowledge and deep expertise creation. The research focus will be on the challenges associated with privacy, security and trust in the IoT, including the various interactions, policy and governance, beliefs and behaviours between people and emerging IoT systems that include 'Edge Computing' AI and Machine Learning.

It will build on an existing successful UK Research and Innovation activity as part of the broad IoT portfolio, which includes the interdisciplinary Privacy, Ethics, Trust, Reliability, Acceptability and Security (PETRAS) IoT cybersecurity Research Hub. It will combine experimental and applied research in an emerging and important field - where connected (and increasingly) intelligent devices form the "periphery" of the Internet.

Originally PETRAS was set up with a five year time frame in mind, however, due to funding restraints at the time it has only been able to run for three. UK Research and Innovation is now investing in this second, expanded phase of PETRAS. There is up to £13 million available to invest until 31 March 2023, to create a National Centre. The intention of this call is to open the development of the proposal to excellent research expertise across the UK to collaborate and work together in a consortium, not to compete with each other. The members of the centre will work in partnership in an integrated manner, across the relevant disciplines, addressing the research challenges in a coordinated way to form the research centre programme. They will harness and build on existing multi/interdisciplinary knowledge and skills, and also address intellectually inspiring and user-led challenges. Partners will need to demonstrate how they can contribute to meeting the objectives of the research centre. It is expected that most new academic partners will become engaged mainly through funding calls which will be run during the Centre's lifetime. A key objective is to maintain the critical mass of staff and expertise of PETRAS, without any gap in capability, and, at the same time, expand the remit to cover new aspects. This includes attracting business partners, with associated funding, alongside the new academic partners.

Please note, we will only accept a single bid to create a Centre of National Excellence and we expect this to be coordinated by the current PETRAS leadership team. This should include relevant researchers and Research Organisations to create a world-leading Centre.

The proposal will be submitted by 4 December 2018. Peer review will be by an interview panel with members drawn widely from recognised experts across the disciplines. It will include appropriate representation from relevant government stakeholders and UKRI Advisory Bodies. The Research Centre should commence in January 2019. It will segue into relevant activities supported by the existing PETRAS Research Hub allowing the transfer of appropriate people from one to the other.

Ultimately, as well as the economic benefits of leading a major new technology application, UK progress on the IoT and associated systems, will deliver life-changing improvements for citizens and cost and efficiency savings, particularly if designed in a user-focussed and people-centric way. The creation of real usable knowledge and impact (be it economic, societal or cultural) will help to cement the UK's position as a world leader in this area.