UK intelligence agency GCHQ has announced the creation of a new research institute that will investigate issues in cyber security.
The institute will be a virtual organisation, comprising seven universities in four teams: UCL, working with University of Aberdeen; Imperial College, working with Queen Mary College and Royal Holloway, University of London; Newcastle University, working with Northumbria University and Royal Holloway on its own.
UCL will host the institute, and it will be lead by Professor Angela Sasse, head of information security at UCL.
The universities were selected after being asked to devise new research programmes to address one of two questions: "How secure is my organisation?" and "How do we make better security decisions?"
The institute has been launched in partnership with Department of Business, Innovation and Skills. The scheme has two apparent objectives – both to improve the security skills base available to UK organisations, and to boost the country’s cyber security industry.
"Britain has one of the largest online economies in the world and a growing cyber security sector, and we need to ensure this success continues," said David Willetts, minister for universities and science, in a statement.
The research institute is distinct from another initiative by GCHQ, in which eight universities were recognised as ‘academic centres of excellence’ in cyber security earlier this year.
The universities to achieve this accolade – UCL, Imperial, Oxford, Bristol, Lancaster, Royal Holloway, Southampton and Queen’s University Belfast – will be invited to collaborate with GCHQ, and will be eligible for extra funding opportunities and £50,000 in capital investment.