Manchester to lead new digital security network

A consortium led by The University of Manchester has been awarded £1.36 million by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to establish a new digital security network.

The Security, Privacy, Identity and Trust Engagement NetworkPlus (SPRITE+) is a UK-wide network that will bring together experts from academia, business and industry, government, and civil society to tackle existing and emerging challenges to trust and security in the digital age. It will fund studies and pilot projects, as well as holding workshops and facilitating internships and staff exchanges.

SPRITE+ will be led by The University of Manchester’s Professor Emma Barrett, with Dr Stacey Conchie (Lancaster University), Professor Bill Lee (Imperial College London), Professor Vladimiro Sassone (University of Southampton), and Professor Sakir Sezer (Queen’s University Belfast).

Eleven high-profile organisations have already signed up as project partners so far - BT, Nasdaq, Arm, Titan IC, Tiani Spirit, National Grid, LORCA, the Open Data Institute, South Korea’s Hanyang University, Greater Manchester Police, and the Office of HM Chief Scientific Advisor for National Security – with more to follow.

Rapid advances in technology and connectivity touch every aspect of our lives, from manufacturing, finance, and retail to education, media, and politics. But they also raise issues of privacy, confidentiality, transparency, accountability, public acceptability, and trust in institutions and processes (including the media, government, and democratic systems). Our reliance on digital services highlights the importance of effective identity verification and authentication, and the growing importance of our digital lives lead to new questions about our sense of self and social identity. SPRITE+ will bring together interdisciplinary research communities and diverse stakeholders to explore these challenges and develop new collaborations.

SPRITE+ is one of five NetworkPlus activities supported by UK Research and Innovation’s Digital Economy (DE) Theme, and is aligned to the DE priority area of Trust, Identity, Privacy, and Security. DE Theme activities address the challenge of how the novel design and use of digital technologies can contribute to an innovative, healthy economy and inclusive society. NetworkPluses bring together interdisciplinary research communities and a variety of stakeholders, to identify important research opportunities and build collaborations, and fund a variety of activities including workshops, feasibility studies, secondments, and horizon scanning.

This is an exciting and ambitious venture. SPRITE+ will harness outstanding UK research expertise in security, privacy, identity, and trust, to address priority challenges identified by and with stakeholders. Together, we will create new knowledge, deepen collaborations, and support the growth of interdisciplinary, stakeholder-focused research for the benefit of our society and economy.
Professor Emma Barrett

“I am delighted that we will be leading this new digital network,” said Colette Fagan, The University of Manchester’s Vice President for Research. “We have an exceptional track record of engagement with industry, and a deep and ongoing commitment to social responsibility – this will further secure our role as one of the country’s leading universities in both of those areas.”

​SPRITE+ will launch this September, and is funded by the EPSRC for four years.

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