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Welsh Marches hailed as cyber centre

The mid-west of England – from Shropshire to Wiltshire – should become the region known nationally and internationally as the UK’s largest cluster of cyber security activity outside London. That’s the aim of the Cyber Resilience Alliance (CRA). That’s a consortium of 100 commercial, private, public and voluntary organisations from across Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, Swindon and Wiltshire. It wants the region to be known as the UK’s largest cluster of cyber security activity outside London.

The CRA sets out its plans in a science and innovation audit published by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The CRA steering group members include Richard Benham, Professor of Cyber Security Management who lectures at Coventry Business School; and Nicola Whiting of the Worcester-based cyber security software company Titania.

According to the study, the region has 5000 people in cyber-security jobs; it aims to double that, by 2025.

Andrew Manning Cox, chairman of the Hereford Enterprise Zone, said: “This report underlines the fact that the Marches is ideally placed to become the natural home for high-tech, high-value jobs over the next decade. By building on the work we have already done to foster innovation and provide the infrastructure it needs to thrive, we can bring thousands of highly-skilled jobs to the area to build prosperity for years to come.”

A £9m Centre for Cyber Security is being developed by the University of Wolverhampton and Herefordshire Council, with £2.82m of Growth Deal funding secured by the Marches LEP (local enterprise partnership). In Hereford, Skylon Park is the Marches LEP’s designated Enterprise Zone and, it says, the only zone in the country to focus on the defence and security sector.

Why around west-central England? It’s home to the Defence Fulfilment Centre (Telford), Special Air Service (SAS) Regiment and the associated Signals Regiment in Hereford; and hosted the former DERA (Defence Evaluation and Research Agency), now privatised as the defence sector firm Qinetiq; mainly, GCHQ in Cheltenham, which in recent years has encouraged a range of spin-outs; and the Ministry of Defence Joint Cyber Unit in Corsham, in Wiltshire.

Cheltenham will host National Cyber Awards 2018 in November, supported by the Cyber Trust, Cyber Security Challenge, and GFirst LEP (the the Local Enterprise Partnership for Gloucestershire).


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