Led by Professors Tim Watson and Iain Phillips, the Doctoral Researchers will be part of Loughborough’s Cyber Security Centre. As well as working with academics across the University, the researchers will have industry supervisors from Darktrace’s world leading team of AI and cyber security experts and use of its cutting-edge AI technology. Students in the programme will choose and undertake their focus independently but Darktrace has the option to carry on research that is of particular significance, in partnership with Loughborough.
The UK government aims to make the UK a science and technology superpower by 2030, and AI and cyber security will be vital industries in reaching those goals. The UK’s cyber security industry is already a world leader worth £10.5bn per year and artificial intelligence is expected to add $1 trillion to the UK economy by 2035. However, both industries face significant talent shortages hampering future growth, with 11,200 more cyber security experts needed to support UK businesses alone. Following the initial set of studentships, Darktrace and Loughborough hope to expand the partnership to help fill this skills gap.
Speaking about the studentships, Professor Watson said: “We are delighted to be working with Darktrace. Loughborough is committed to enhancing knowledge in the area of AI and cyber security, and ensuring there is a highly skilled workforce to meet the needs of industry.
“Darktrace is a global leader in cyber security AI, and Doctoral Researchers on this scheme will have unique access to this industry leader to advance their research in order to tackle these increasingly complex technological challenges.”
Professor Dan Parsons, Loughborough’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research, added: “At Loughborough we are committed to harnessing the power and potential of AI to benefit society, and doing so in secure and resilient ways. This partnership with Darktrace will help us deliver this, and we are delighted Darktrace has chosen us as their first higher education partner in the UK."
The partnership also builds on Darktrace’s wider commitment to helping the next generation of diverse tech talent in the UK. This year, Darktrace continued its internship programme with CyberFirst, an initiative led by the National Cyber Security Centre to inspire young people to develop cybersecurity skills, and partnered with Code First Girls, which aims to close the diversity gap in the industry.
Rosie Cooper, Technical Director at Darktrace, and a supervisor on the programme, added: “Darktrace is built by experts in areas ranging from data science and mathematics to astrophysics, immunology, linguistics, and even classical Greek. Cross-disciplinary teams have been key to our success. We believe the same approach to skills can propel a world leading technology industry in the UK and, as a business at the forefront of UK tech and one that has benefitted from the country’s academic strengths, we want to help make that happen. We’re excited to partner with the doctoral students at Loughborough to advance this agenda.”
The first Doctoral Researcher has already been recruited, with the remaining posts being filled over the next four years.
Underlining its commitment to AI and big data research, Loughborough has recently joined the Turing University Network. The network, part of The Alan Turing Institute, offers UK universities with an interest in data science and AI the opportunity to engage and collaborate both with the Institute and its broader networks in academia, industry and the public sector. Loughborough has also recently announced a number of data science and AI scholarships for underrepresented students in postgraduate conversion courses, which are being co-funded by Visa, a world leader in digital payments, and the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT).