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CivTech launches Scottish cyber security challenge

26/08/16

Competition for new products includes willingness to look at ideas based on blockchain technology

Scotland’s CivTech programme has thrown out a new challenge for the development of cyber security products, with an indication that it is ready to look at ideas that involve the use of blockchain technology.

Cybersecurity01_WebThe competition, named the WildCard Challenge, is aimed at finding solutions that can work for the public sector and have commercial potential.

It offers a single prize of £15,000 of funding and a place on its three-month accelerator programme.

It is part of the Scottish Government Digital Directorate programme, launched in June, which is testing a new procurement route that focuses on asking open questions rather than providing technical specifications in traditional tenders.

The first round of challenges, which are still being assessed, focused on health, transport and environmental issues.

Blockchain boost

CivTech indicated that it would specifically welcome proposals including blockchain, the encryption system technology that underpins the global currency bitcoin, and around which there is an energetic debate concerning its applicability for public services.

Earlier this year the UK Government’s chief scientific adviser published a report saying it has the potential to transform public services, former Cabinet Office minister Matt Hancock said it could be “enormously powerful” for government, and it has been used by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in a pilot for benefits claimants. In addition, Credits became the first supplier of the technology to win a place on the G-Cloud procurement catalogue

But over the past month there have been warnings against a rush to use the technology. The Labour Party’s digital economy spokesperson Chi Onwurah said the DWP pilot has privacy implications, and the Government Digital Service’s Verify team has said there are still several concerns over the reliability of the technology.

The call for entries also said the proposals must be based on an early stage idea or come from a new company, and have a clear link to the public sector. Applicants have to be based in Scotland.

Kick-start

Martin Beaton, cyber security network integrator for Scotland, said: “This project is about kick-starting cyber security innovation in Scotland. We are looking for something with huge commercial potential and want to help trigger a successful business in the industry by giving budding entrepreneurs a boost and the support they need to do this.

“The high level of interest in the first set of challenges has proved that there is a demand for such initiatives. It’s all about bringing together public sector organisations and private sector innovation, with the aim of stimulating the agenda and putting Scotland on the cyber security map.”

The deadline for applications is 9.00am on 5 September. More information from here.

Image: http://eng-cs.syr.edu/research/cybersecurity

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