The UK aims to become a world leader in the race to eradicate some of the most damaging cyber security threats facing businesses, Business Secretary Greg Clark has announced.

Up to £70 million investment is available from the government through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and backed by further investment from industry.

This investment will support research into the design and development of hardware so that businesses will be more secure and resilient from the outset.

The aim is to ‘design out’ many forms of cyber threats by ‘designing in’ security and protection technology and solutions into hardware and chip designs.

Businesses and consumers will benefit from increased security and protections built into digital devices and online services.

A further £30 million of government investment will aim to ensure smart systems are safe and secure.

Smart internet connected devices can include anything from operating a central heating thermostat via a smart phone, to pressing a button to unlock the front door. There are expected to be more than 420 million such devices in use across the UK within the next 3 years.

This will ultimately help in eradicating a significant proportion of the current cyber risks for businesses and services in future connected smart products.

“This could be a real step-change in computer and online security, better protecting businesses, services and consumers from cyber-attacks resulting in benefits for consumers and the economy,” said Business Secretary Greg Clark.

“With businesses having to invest more and more in tackling ever more complex cyberattacks, ‘designing in’ security measures into the hardware’s fabric will not only protect our businesses and consumers but ultimately cut the growing cybersecurity costs to businesses.

The government aims for R&D investment to reach 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027, the biggest increase in public investment in R&D in UK history.

The government has also announced four new projects across England to encourage more women, BAME, and neurodiverse candidates into a career in cyber security. They will each jointly benefit from a total investment of at least £500,000.

The four projects are Crucial Academy: Diversity in Cyber Security, QA: Cyber Software Academy for Women, Blue Screen IT: HACKED, and Hacker House Ltd: Hands on Hacking, Training and Employer Portal.

The funding was announced by Digital Minister Margot James.

“Our cyber security industry is thriving but to support this growing success we need a skilled and diverse workforce to match,” said James.

“These latest projects show that whatever your background, ethnicity or sex, there are opportunities to join the cyber security profession.

“We want to demonstrate that you can have a dynamic and exciting career in a sector that sits at the heart of our economy, and is a key part of our modern Industrial Strategy."