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Securing the integrity of international research collaborations

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: ISCF, Support

Trusted Research is a campaign to raise awareness of the risks to research collaborations which may occur when working with organisations or research partners with links to nations whose democratic and ethical values are different from our own.

Trusted Research aims to secure the integrity of the system of international research collaboration, which is vital to the continued success of the UK’s research and innovation sector.

The UK has a thriving research and innovation sector that attracts investment from across the world. More than half of UK research is a product of international partnerships.

Having your research, intellectual property (IP) or data compromised could result in damage to the reputation of your people, organisation or even the nation. Depending on the sensitivity of your research, it can also lead to legal proceedings and criminal prosecution.

Trusted research for industry

  • Outlines the potential risks to UK research and innovation
  • Helps you to have confidence in international collaboration and make informed decisions around the potential risks
  • Explains how to protect your research and staff from potential theft, misuse or exploitation
  • Outlines how industrial partners can support academia to enable international partnerships to flourish and develop securely

Chart showing a breakdown of funding: 81% is Business/Industry Funding, 13% is Overseas Funding, 3% is Government Funding and 3% is Other funding.

The bigger picture

The business sector is the single largest contributor to UK research and development (R&D). Expenditure on R&D performed by UK businesses reached £25 billion in 2018, an increase of 5.8%.

The UK government’s Industrial Strategy set out a target to raise investment on R&D to 2.4% of GDP by 2027. As the largest contributor to total UK R&D expenditure, the business sector is integral to achieving this objective.

Supporting organisations to approach international collaboration with confidence

International trade and collaboration are essential to the continued prosperity of the UK.

The government, through its Industrial and Export strategies, seeks to support organisations of all sizes to take advantage of the opportunities offered through trading and collaborating across the globe.

Trusted Research for Industry forms part of the wider government policy to support the UK’s R&D sector, complementing initiatives such as the recently published Research & Development Road Map:

Understanding the risk

A hostile state is one whose democratic and ethical values are different from our own and whose strategic intent is hostile to the UK.

Hostile states are targeting UK universities to steal personal data, research data and intellectual property and this could be used to help their own military, commercial and authoritarian interests.

International collaboration offers hostile states the opportunity to benefit from research without the need to undertake traditional espionage or cyber compromise. Collaboration can provide access to people, IT networks and participation in research which may be sensitive or have sensitive applications.

How can I protect my research?

Trusted Research provides tailored advice to enable the R&D sector to approach international research collaboration with confidence and take a well informed and proportionate approach to risk management.

The guidance is based on the most up to date information on the threats posed by Hostile State Actors to the UK R&D sector and CPNI and NCSC’s extensive experience in providing advice on risk management.

Tools and resources

In addition, Trusted Research Guidance signposts additional tools and resources which will provide further support to the R&D sector in managing physical and cyber security and legal and reputational risks associated with international research collaboration.

There are a range of products to support academia, industry and senior leaders in the R&D sector. All guidance is freely available via the CPNI public website:

Trusted Research Guidance has been produced by the Centre for Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI), the government’s technical authority on protective security and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), the government’s authority for cyber security, in consultation with partners in academia and industry.


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