Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Ensuring the Security of Digital Technologies at the Periphery (SDTaP)

The SDTaP programme supports the development of a safe and secure Internet of Things (IoT). This is achieved through investment into:

  • PETRAS (Privacy, Ethics, Trust, Reliability, Acceptability and Security) National Centre of Excellence (NCE)
  • Innovate UK demonstrator projects
  • Innovate UK commercialisation programme
  • EPSRC research grants.
£30.55 million
2018 to 2023, all UKRI funds have been distributed
Partners involved:
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Innovate UK, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Home Office

The scope and what we're doing

SDTaP is a £30.55 million programme supporting the development of a safe and secure IoT. In particular, the programme supports the protection of critical applications from sophisticated cyber threats.

SDTaP is delivered by EPSRC and Innovate UK with policy support from DCMS and the Home Office. The overall programme objectives are to deliver:

  • a national capability for the coordinated research and development of IoT or cyber solutions at the periphery of the internet
  • new and strategically meaningful interdisciplinary research and industry collaborations, applied to the domain that brings together IoT, artificial intelligence (AI), behavioural psychology and computer engineering
  • successful world-leading knowledge transfer from the UK research base to UK industry.

There are four elements of the SDTaP programme:

PETRAS National Centre of Excellence

PETRAS was originally established in 2016 and funded as part of the IoTUK programme run by DCMS.

Funding for IoTUK ended in 2018 to 2019. However, PETRAS has developed an internationally recognised brand and reputation as a high-profile UK asset. For example, it fed into the development of the Secure by Design GOV.UK guidance, which informed the development of international standards on IoT cyber security. It involved 11 universities and around 110 user partners, and secured around £14 million in cash and in-kind investment from partners.

As part of SDTaP, PETRAS is a National Centre of Excellence (NCE) for IoT systems cyber security.

The SDTaP programme invests £13.85 million into the PETRAS NCE over five years between January 2019 and September 2023. This investment is the main element of the SDTaP programme, along with the Innovate UK demonstrators. It includes 23 universities and engages with more than 120 partners. The PETRAS NCE has awarded over £9 million in internal and external opportunities since being set up.

Innovate UK demonstrators

The demonstrators are large-scale industry-led projects to deploy, test and experiment with nearer-to-market ideas focusing on addressing major IoT cyber security challenges. Projects have been offered funding over two rounds.

Innovate UK commercialisation programme

A strand of the Cyber Security Academic Startup Accelerator Programme (CyberASAP), this aims to identify promising commercial opportunities coming out of PETRAS-funded research, and offers commercialisation support for those promising innovation potential and societal impact.

EPSRC research grants

Three EPSRC research grants have been awarded through the SDTaP programme.

Why we're doing it

As our society (homes, workplaces and infrastructure) becomes increasingly connected to the internet by sensors and smart actuators, we are creating an increasingly smart environment underpinned by an IoT.

The proliferation of IoT devices that sense and actuate the world offers huge potential, and all our lives will be increasingly enabled by IoT over the coming decades.

In our everyday lives, these IoT devices are not only measuring our health data, travel habits and energy consumption, but are also interacting with people. This is often with unprecedented access to information and decision-making based on that data, which is often personal.

IoT devices are used in our critical national infrastructure, such as power stations and transport networks, to aid understanding and automate control. The economic, health and societal benefits this presents to citizens, industry and government are numerous:

  • a citizen is now able to understand how their exercise habits affect their health
  • a company is able to personalise their service to each customer
  • the government can understand population behaviour in order to influence policy decisions.

However, this IoT world comes with significant risks. IoT systems must be safe and secure, particularly as more critical applications emerge. Effective solutions need to combine cyber and physical safety and security with human behaviour and governance, leveraging the use of AI while mitigating risks (including those of global supply chains). Crucially, they require interdisciplinary research and development, which spans technical and behavioural sciences, law and ethics.

Opportunities, support and resources available

There are currently no open funding opportunities.

Past projects, outcomes and impact


SDTaP-funded projects have not yet been added to this page.

Innovate UK demonstrator projects

Innovate UK currently hosts the following demonstrator projects:

  • i-TRACE
  • Secure-CAVs
  • ManySecured (previously CyberStone).

EPSRC research grants

EPSRC currently funds the following research grants:

Who to contact

Greg Smith, Portfolio Manager (digital security and resilience theme)


Governance, management and panels

The PETRAS NCE and Innovate UK demonstrators projects and commercialisation scheme share a governing board. This board meets twice a year and has representation from across universities, business, UKRI and the wider government, including departmental Chief Scientific Officers, and with an independent chair from a key private sector partner organisation.

The purpose of the SDTaP Governing Board is to ensure the SDTaP suite of activities fulfil their agreed mission and use appropriate processes, as well as providing strategic steering advice. A subsection of this board, including the core PETRAS team and representatives from UKRI, meets monthly.

The governing board is also associated with several other boards:

  • the Research Excellence Board provides quality assurance and access to a peer review network
  • the Knowledge Exchange Forum provides information on user needs and research gaps or opportunities
  • the Industrial Advisory Committee advises on the demonstrator and commercialisation initiatives.

Last updated: 6 November 2023

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