Airbus opens cyber innovation hub in Wales

Newport hub will focus on industrial control systems, artificial intelligence and data analytics

Airbus has officially opened a cyber innovation hub at its offices in Newport, Wales, which is designed to host leading cyber security research initiatives, incubators and accelerators, and academic research partnerships.

Key areas of research include the protection of industrial control and safety-critical systems, understanding the human factors of cyber security, and artificial intelligence and data analytics.

Airbus cyber innovation teams around the world are tasked with monitoring and identifying cyber trends to develop the technology to tackle emerging security issues and protect the aircraft manufacturer’s portfolio of products, manufacturing processes and intellectual property from cyber threats.

According to the company, the Newport hub is designed to host state-of-the-art research and innovation programmes to develop breakthrough technologies that will be transformed into prototypes and demonstrators by incubation projects. Accelerator programmes will industrialise these and run pilot projects across the wider business.

Wales has a reputation for cyber excellence by developing cyber talent in the region and engaging with Welsh industry and academia, and the Airbus hub is hosting a cyber security initiative called CyberLab, jointly funded by the Welsh government and Airbus.

The £8m programme of activity and research in a laboratory environment is aimed at developing fundamental cyber security research for key industrial requirements in advanced manufacturing organisations.

Airbus said partnerships with academia are key to its innovation goal of identifying and developing emerging research and technology. Partners include Cardiff University, which has been working with Airbus since 2017 on cyber security analytics to develop new ways of protecting corporate IT networks and critical national infrastructure from cyber attacks, and De Montfort University, which is working with the company on security for industrial control systems.

Speaking at the opening of the hub, Ken Skates, Welsh minister for economy and transport, said the hub will give front-line leadership in cyber security to companies and enterprises across Wales and the UK.

“I view cyber as a building block for every commercial enterprise in Wales,” he said. “It is not only larger businesses that should be concerned about cyber security, it is every size of business across the entire country that needs to take action now to safeguard our national infrastructure and strong supply chain.”

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Kevin Jones, head of Airbus Cyber Innovation, said the launch of the hub is further recognition of the strategic importance of the cyber security research and innovation programme for Airbus.

“It demonstrates the company’s commitment to cyber security and research into the protection of business and critical systems, and recognises the value of the cyber security ecosystem in Wales,” he said. “The flagship cyber innovation laboratory and CyberLab programme enable transformation of the cyber security horizon, and further enhances the ‘Cyber Wales’ brand on a global scale.”

Katherine Bennett, Airbus senior vice-president for the UK, said the company works closely with partners from academia and government right across its UK business of manufacturing and designing aircraft, satellites and helicopters.

“The opening of our cyber innovation hub is another fantastic example of how, working together, we can boost important research into this critical, fast-developing sector which helps to protect not only Airbus’s own products and systems, but those of our customers around the world,” said Bennett.

Read more on Hackers and cybercrime prevention

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