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Queen's University receives Royal award for strengthening cyber security

6/04/2016


Queen’s Chancellor Mr Tom Moran and Vice-Chancellor Professor Patrick Johnston along with the Head of Cyber Security, Professor John McCanny have received a national honour from His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, for the University's work in protecting the online activity of billions of internet users around the world.

The Centre for Secure Information Technologies at Queen’s – a major hub for research and innovation in electronic engineering and cyber security – will receive a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education. 

Based at the Northern Ireland Science Park in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter, the Centre for Secure Information Technologies, with 90 staff, is one of Europe’s largest university cyber security research centres. It has developed breakthrough innovations, including novel technology to be integrated into Apps to improve security for online financial transactions; anti-counterfeit technology to prevent internet fraud; and new processors to deliver filtered internet to homes and businesses, stripping out viruses, malware and malicious content. CSIT is funded by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Innovate UK and Invest Northern Ireland.

Receiving the award at Buckingham Palace, Queen’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Patrick Johnston said: “The Queen’s Anniversary Prize is one of the most prestigious honours in higher education and recognition of CSIT which has put Northern Ireland firmly on the map as a lead player for cyber security.

 “Cyber security is a major global challenge, with cyber crime increasing at an alarming rate. The need for strong and resilient cyber security technologies has never been greater. CSIT is home to some of the world’s foremost cyber security experts. It is at the forefront of efforts to protect the UK from cyber attacks and to maintain the public’s trust that their online privacy and data is kept safe.

"CSIT has also been a critical factor in securing almost 1,200 cyber security related jobs in Northern Ireland, injecting around £40 million per year into our economy. It is helping to meet the demand for well-qualified graduates to fill these jobs through its postgraduate courses.  Its Masters in Cyber Security which is underpinned by the Centre’s world-class research, and the CSIT Doctoral Training Centre, attracts PhD students from around the world.

"The Centre is a great example of the global impact of Queen’s world leading research.”

Professor John McCanny, Head of Cyber Security at CSIT, said: “CSIT’s unique strength lies in its approach to the innovation and commercialisation of ground-breaking research. It overlays an excellent academic research environment with an infrastructure that is more common in high-technology companies, creating a unique team of researchers, innovators and engineers that accelerates the translation of research into new business opportunities and the creation of new companies.

 “CSIT prides itself on two pillars of excellence – in its world-leading research, and its unique model for commercialising that research. Links with global companies including IBM, Intel, Infosys, Allstate, BAE Systems, Thales, Euronext and Equiniti, provide valuable routes to market for CSIT’s technological innovations. Strong relationships with local companies also allow SMEs unrivalled access to engineering and research expertise, enabling them to grow their business internationally.

"Our strength in this area was recognised by the UK Government in January 2016 when it announced that CSIT, in partnership with Cyber London, will lead the Early Stage Accelerator Programme to support cyber security start-ups in developing innovative technical solutions to keep the UK safe from cyber attacks. This programme will offer start-ups advice on how to develop their products and services and bring them to market."

Employment and Learning Minister, Dr Stephen Farry said: “I congratulate Queen’s University Belfast on being honoured by Her Majesty the Queen for its work in strengthening global cyber security and protecting the online activity of billions of internet users around the world. 

“CSIT has been a critical factor in establishing Northern Ireland as the UK’s leading cyber security cluster by promoting close to 1,200 new cyber security related jobs through spinout activity, indigenous business scale-up and Foreign Direct Investment. CSIT also plays a vital role in building the capacity and capability of local companies through the provision of high quality masters and PhD graduates.”

CSIT hosted the World Cyber Security Summit in March – an annual event which brought together the international research community, industry leaders and government policy makers in Belfast to discuss cyber security challenges. 

For more information

Media inquiries to Michelle Cassidy (Thursday-Friday) or Anne-Marie Clarke (Monday-Wednesday) at Queen’s University Communications Office. Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5310 Email: comms.officer@qub.ac.uk

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