Lockheed Martin establishes Virtual Technology Cluster to drive cyber investment and innovation

Andrew Elwell

Cybercrime is becoming a well-worn phrase in 2015. The threats from online hackers, cyber terrorists and state actors in cyberspace have been documented and discussed at length in recent years. Governments and commercial organisations are becoming increasingly aware of the need to enhance their cyber defences and bolster digital networks to plug vulnerability gaps. The challenge is identifying how best to do that and in keeping up with rapidly evolving threats and technology.

The answer will invariably include cross-industry collaboration, targeted investment, knowledge transfer and new technology innovation.

Enter Lockheed Martin and boutique technology merchant bank, Restoration Partners. They have partnered to establish the Virtual Technology Cluster (VTC), which is an innovation hub for technology development and a support base for small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) seeking to bring their cyber solutions to market. The cluster connects entrepreneurs and investors with Lockheed Martin’s global supply chain.

"The VTC provides a new approach to benchmark capability within the UK supply chain, offering a framework that supports individuals, start-up companies, existing SMEs and others to develop innovative ideas and grow," said Stephen Ball, Chief Executive, Lockheed Martin UK.

Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office with responsibility for Cyber Security, announced the establishment of the VTC, citing the importance of cyber security and technology development as a core component of the government’s long-term economic plan for growth.

The cyber domain "brings unprecedented opportunities for growth," said Maude. "Lockheed Martin’s new Virtual Technology Cluster will help bring together investors and innovators so that our small and medium-sized businesses can benefit from the support they need to grow and prosper."

Lockheed unveiled the VTC at its Next-Gen Cyber Innovation and Technology Centre in Farnborough, which Defence IQ had previously been invited to take a tour of and understand more about the company’s cyber capabilities.

At the time John Plumb, the Next-Gen Centre’s manager, said "because we support the whole of Lockheed Martin UK we get to see everything. We’ve become a catalyst for horizontal integration. We often bring parties together and we play a technology consultancy role."

In partnership with Restoration Partners, that is exactly the sort of role Lockheed is undertaking with the Virtual Technology Cluster.

"Using our proven track record supporting companies within the technology sector, our role is to make connections so that companies with some great ideas have access to the experience, insight and professional expertise of other established organisations to help them bring their ideas to fruition through this ground-breaking scheme," said Ken Olisa, OBE, Chairman of Restoration Partners.

There is a critical need for investment in new digital technologies. More and more organisations are being forced to create risk management and crisis communications strategies in the case of a cyber attack. Speaking shortly after North Korea’s alleged cyber attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, the company’s CEO Michael Lynton said: "They came in the house, stole everything, then burned down the house. They destroyed servers, computers, wiped them clean of all the data and took all the data." The lesson is, if you are caught unawares by a successful cyber attack, do not be caught unprepared.

On 26-28 May in London, the Cyber Incident Response event will give attendees the chance to experience a cyber attack and then receive top level training from BT Security Enterprise in how to combat that breach. Find out more below.