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S$15.6 million awarded to 9 public-private research projects under Singapore’s National Cybersecurity R&D programme

Nine research projects have been awarded a total of S$15.6 million under a grant call by the National Cybersecurity Research & Development Programme to develop Singapore’s cybersecurity R&D capabilities, to meet the security needs of the public sector and of Singapore as a whole.

The National Cybersecurity R&D Programme is coordinated by the National Research Foundation (NRF) Singapore, the National Security Coordination Centre (NSCC), Cyber Security Agency (CSA), the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the Ministry of Defence (MoD), Government Technology Agency (GovTech), Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) and the Economic Development Board (EDB) and it promotes collaboration among government agencies, academia, research institutes and private sector organisations.

Another six projects have been awarded close to S$0.6 million under a seed grant call by the Singapore Cybersecurity Consortium to spur the commercialisation of cybersecurity technologies. The Consortium is funded by the NRF and anchored at the National University of Singapore (NUS). It was launched in September 2016 to promote research, commercialisation and training in cybersecurity.

National Cybersecurity R&D Programme Grant Call

The Grant Call was launched in November 2016. Three key priorities in cybersecurity R&D were identified for the grant call, namely, National Security, Critical Infrastructure and Smart Nation. Research projects that examine key technology areas, including Effective Threat-based Detection, Analysis and Defence, Secure IoT System, and Security-by-Design and Testing of Emergent Technologies, were welcomed.

The emphasis of the call is on the translational and deployability of ideas and technologies. Dual use of new capabilities outside of the public sector is encouraged.

To ensure scientific rigour and commercialisation capacity, only proposals submitted by Singapore-based companies in collaboration with Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs), research institutions or government agencies were eligible. Twenty-three proposals were received.

Out of these, nine projects were awarded, based on the potential impact of their research areas in Singapore, and the potential for translation and commercialisation.

One of the awarded projects by local start-up Attila Cybertech Pte. Ltd. seeks to improve the security of cyber-physical systems. It will use machine learning techniques to detect anomalous behaviours in computer systems. Carried out in collaboration with researchers from the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), the technology will be trialled on a testbed at SUTD.  

Another project by local company, i-Sprint Innovations Pte. Ltd., uses Blockchain technology to provide secure protocols and mechanisms for the e-logistics sector, such as tamper-proof financial records and shipping documents. Innovations in this area can help to reduce administrative, legal and execution costs. Carried out in collaboration with Nanyang Technological University (NTU), this project will also develop a prototype of a cargo tracking system for goods. The outcome of this project will be incorporated into i-Sprint’s product identity solution, AccessReal, which provides a platform for product identity, counterfeit detection, track and trace, logistic tracking, big data analytics and direct marketing.

To take another example, another project, a collaboration between Acronis Asia Research and  Development Pte. Ltd., the Singapore R&D centre of global data protection provider Acronis, and NTU, aims to create innovative encryption and secure data management technologies to enable secure multi-party computation platform for business-to-business and business-to-government transactions. By creating encryption algorithms and methods for secure data computation, encrypted data can be shared between multiple un-trusted parties while keeping shared data secret and business user anonymity.

Mr. George Loh, Director (Programmes) of the NRF and Co-Chair of the National Cybersecurity R&D Joint Programme Committee, said about the awarded projects, “Cybersecurity research is crucial in building up Singapore’s cybersecurity experts as well as developing technologies and capabilities, which are necessary for Singapore’s Smart Nation vision. We are confident that these nine newly-awarded projects will spur closer collaboration among researchers, industry and the government to translate technologies into effective solutions that address the rising cyber threats worldwide.”

Singapore Cybersecurity Consortium Seed Grant Call

In June 2017, a seed grant call was launched to invite proposals from consortium members for proof-of-concepts of new cybersecurity technologies and innovative ideas. Ten proposals were received. Out of these, six projects were awarded based on their technical merits and potential for commercialisation.

One of the awarded projects is carried out by local cyber company, Custodio Technologies Pte. Ltd., in collaboration with StarHub and SUTD, to research and develop a method of identifying Internet of Things (IoT) devices, while preserving subscriber privacy.

This is an essential building block in the development of a full-fledged solution, providing telecommunications providers with the ability to detect potentially malicious traffic and to protect their infrastructure by blocking attacks.

Another project awarded under the consortium’s seed grant call aims to develop a proof-of-concept testing environment for cybersecurity technologies. It provides simulations of various network-based attack scenarios and techniques, and serves as a demonstration platform for solution developers. This project is a collaboration between NUS, local start-up InsiderSecurity and the National Cybersecurity R&D Lab.

On the awarded projects, Professor Abhik Roychoudhury from the NUS School of Computing, who is the Academic Director of the Singapore Cybersecurity Consortium, said: “The inaugural seed grant call by the Singapore Cybersecurity Consortium attracted joint submissions from industry and academia containing innovative proposals – both for benchmarking existing cybersecurity solutions, and for developing new solutions. The new solutions proposed range from readily translatable solutions for enhancing resilience of critical infrastructures and home IoT network, to future-proof cybersecurity solutions that securely manage traffic of unmanned aerial systems. Success of such endeavours would encourage more meaningful interaction between industry and academia in Singapore, and will help secure Singapore's cyber-infrastructure of today and tomorrow.”

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