It’s been just over a year since SPRITE+ grant started, followed shortly by the official launch, and the first Expert Fellows meeting. To commemorate the first year of the project’s work, we have highlighted some of the milestones and achievements that the network has reached thus far.
One year on, SPRITE+ is a thriving network of over 400 Members, Expert Fellows, and Project Partners from the US, Canada, UK, Europe, and South Korea. The network represents expertise in digital trust, identity, privacy, and security (TIPS) covering technical and social sciences, as well as humanities: from law and policy, to cybersecurity, engineering, and sociology. SPRITE+ Members and Fellows together represent over 90 higher educational institutions spanning the UK and beyond.
SPRITE+ includes over a dozen Project Partners from a variety of industries, who work together to cover the academic, industrial, and national security angles on the emerging challenges within digital TIPS. In its first year of operation, SPRITE+ hosted several meetings between Project Partners and Expert Fellows to identify the four broad Challenge Themes which are relevant to a wide range of societal and industrial concerns. These themes set the direction of SPRITE+ activities including the formation of Challenge Working Groups and pilot projects, and our events.
SPRITE+ has made connections with a number of related organisations, including its sister EPSRC funded NetworkPluses. We have interacted with over a dozen established and up-and-coming digital TIPS communities both within the UK and beyond: from the Research Institute for Sociotechnical Cyber Security (RISCS) and the Not-Equal NetworkPlus to the Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (CREST), The Smart Cybersecurity Network (SERENE-RISC), and the Institute for Security Science and Technology (ISST) at Imperial College London.
In its first year of operation SPRITE+ has established a substantial digital presence. SPRITEHub – the digital hub for SPRITE+ – averaged over 600 monthly visitors from 80 countries. In the last year, almost 400 registered users established over 250 connections through SPRITEHub.
The SPRITE+ Twitter account, with over 350 followers, covers the latest news, job opportunities, and reports both from within the network, and from nearly 400 other cognate organisations and individuals.
In building its pipeline of future leaders in digital TIPS, SPRITE+ developed a programme of opportunities for early career researchers (ECRs) including PhD students, postdocs, research associates, and first position lecturers (within 5 years of completing their PhD).
SPRITE+ has conducted over a dozen ECR online socials – open forums where attendees discuss pertinent issues. Participants have already gained insights into how COVID-related restrictions affect teaching and research, shared tools, and provided mutual support. Invited speakers joined the meetings to discuss collaborating with small businesses and conducting successful workshops.
SPRITE+ has also worked on building skills and capacity within the ECR community through multiple streams of activities. These include a workshop on writing successful grant applications (with presentations from academia and government), the Rising Stars series which showcases research profiles of ECRs, and Career Journeys – a series of interviews with give real-life examples of how careers in digital TIPS develop.
SPRITE+ has also collated a programme of free on-demand resources to develop the skills of ECRs, and to encourage collaboration and knowledge exchange between people across digital TIPS. Developed after reviewing over 100 available resources, the final list includes a selection of the best free online courses covering cybersecurity, emerging technologies, digital human rights, and digital democracy. The list also provides ways for learners to test their skills via practical exercises ranging from card-based, to browser games, to “capture the flag” competitions.
SPRITE+ offers resources to encourage wider discussion and education around digital TIPS. During its first year SPRITE+ produced:
In a meeting of 75 Expert Fellows with representatives from academia, industry, and government, SPRITE+ established four challenge themes – broad areas around which SPRITE+ activities are centred. The themes are:
These themes gave rise to two Challenge Working Groups working longer-term, and five shorter projects. The challenge working groups were formed around:
The following short projects were funded during our online sandpit on 'Trust, Identity, Privacy, and Security in the post-Covid Digital Economy':
Events and activities supplement the Challenge Themes, with SPRITE+ offering logistical support to help SPRITE+ Members, Expert Fellows, Project Partners and other stakeholders organise activities to explore aspects of TIPS in the Digital Economy from multiple perspectives, advance understanding of what is already known, and identify opportunities to increase knowledge.
You can see our events schedule here.
From everyone in the SPRITE+ Management Team, we would like to thank every Member, Expert Fellow, and Project Partner for contributing to the network, and making this project possible. You can always reach us with suggestions and feedback on email@example.com.
Applications are open to individuals from academia and professional practice (non-academic) to attend an online sandpit on Digital Vulnerabilities in July 2021. Up to £160k of SPRITE+ funding will be made available to fund interdisciplinary projects.