Queen’s University in £8M government-backed project to pioneer AI-driven secure networks

Queen’s is one of two academic leads on a highly prestigious, £8 million, UK initiative to train an expert workforce to deliver secure networks in the AI era.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has invested in the groundbreaking Centre for Doctoral Training in Future Open Secure Networks (FORT).

Over the next eight years, FORT will train more than 50 post-graduate researchers to become industry-conscious thinkers, and leaders with unique expertise in wireless communications, cybersecurity, networking, and AI. This cohort will influence the roadmaps of future open networking and security technologies and their applications.


FORT is led by the University of Surrey’s 5G/ 6G Innovation Centre in partnership with Queen's Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT).

FORT also enjoys support from more than 21 industry partners: Amazon Web Services, Ampliphae, Angoka, AWTG, Catapult Satellite Applications, Codasip, Ericsson, Hewlett Packard Enterprises, HP, Intel, Interdigital, Keysight Technologies, Kyndryl, National Physical Laboratory, Nvidia, OpenWeb, Qualcomm, Rolls Royce, Virgin Media O2, and Viavi Solutions.

Dr Jesus Martinez del Rincon, Co-Director of FORT, Research Director of Secure Intelligence at CSIT at Queen’s, said:

"With the FORT programme, we aim to create a community of 50 PhDs who will become the future, industry-conscious thinkers and leaders on secure, trustworthy and autonomous, future network communications."

Regius Professor Rahim Tafazolli, FREng, Director of the 5G/6G Centre at Surrey University and Principal Investigator of FORT, said:

"I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to EPSRC for backing the Future Open SecuRe NeTworks (FORT) initiative. I am equally thankful for the support of our 21 industry partners and look forward to working closely with colleagues from Queen's University Belfast. This powerful team has a unique vision, expertise, and mission of making the UK a powerhouse for future telecommunications.”

The leadership team also includes FORT Co-Investigator, Professor Máire O'Neill, CSIT Director from Queen’s and FORT Director Dr Tim Brown from Surrey Uni.


Along with providing a world-class education with access to industry, FORT will create an environment for students to research new and better ways to build communication networks that are safe, reliable, and ready for the future.

FORT is committed to conducting responsible, ethical research in cybersecurity, AI technologies, and future networks, with a strong societal focus. This approach is designed to generate world-class academic contributions and establish a pipeline of talent for the future.


Ankisha Rana ( | Helen Lappin (