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How STFC is using innovation capabilities to address security challenges

As one of the research councils making up UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) goal is to deliver economic, societal, scientific, and international benefits to the UK and its people. We are committed to using our world-leading national and international research facilities and our wide-ranging expertise to target national priorities and transformative technologies including security and defence.

A key STFC facility which can support businesses in the security field is ASTeC – our particle accelerator science and technology centre. Our research and development facilities, such as our 6MeV compact linear accelerator, and the expertise in designing and building large scale particle accelerators are particularly applicable to security scanning technologies. An example of this is the work we carried out with Rapiscan Systems to improve the performance of systems that screen cargo for customs and security purposes.

In recent years, the Central Laser Facility (CLF) have worked closely with UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) to deliver a research and development programme focusing on advanced inspection technologies for security applications based on laser-driven secondary sources. The spectroscopic techniques developed by CLF also have applications in the security sector. For example, did you know that the technology behind the Insight airport scanners currently in use at several airports in both the UK and the EU was originally developed at CLF? Cobalt Light Systems who were spun out of STFC and are now part of Agilent, developed this application using unique Raman technologies designed for non-invasive through barrier analysis.

As well as these facilities, which have been at the forefront of STFC’s security commitment for years, we also have other facilities specialising in quantum, high performance computing, AI, and machine learning. For example, STFC’s Hartree Centre partnered with Chilton Computing, Huduma and Oxfordshire County Council as part of an Innovate UK funded project focusing on cyber security in connected autonomous vehicles (CAVs). They were able to quantify the security level of a CAV system and develop a model for data-driven decision-making in a CAV framework.

STFC attended the International Security EXPO event in London from the 26th–27th September, where we had the chance to discuss many different opportunities and solutions, from one-off support to long term collaborative projects. We hope that, with our industry-leading expertise, we can continue to support the development of companies looking to expand on their security and defence capabilities.