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The Welsh government, alongside the Cardiff Capital Region (CCR) investment body and a consortium of industry partners, is to spend a total of £9.5m on a cyber security innovation hub – to become operational towards the end of 2022 – which it is hoped will help the Welsh cyber sector become a global leader.
The money – consisting of £3m from the government, £3m from CCR and £3.5m of in-kind match funding from industry, will be spent over the next two years. The project is supported by Cardiff University, as well as Airbus, Alacrity Cyber, CGI, Thales NDEC, Tramshed Tech and the University of South Wales.
The partners hope to train more than 1,000 cyber professionals and are targeting a 50% expansion of the Welsh cyber sector, and inward private equity investment of more than £20m by the end of the decade. Currently, there are about 51 security businesses based in Wales, which collectively employ a very small fraction of the total UK cyber workforce.
“The Welsh Government is proud to co-fund Cyber Innovation Hub’s mission to transform Cardiff Capital Region into one of the UK’s leading cyber clusters by 2030,” said Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford. “The pandemic has highlighted just how important cyber innovation is in supporting and protecting information-sharing while offering data and insight to help keep the region moving and growing.”
Kellie Beirne, CCR City Deal director, added: “We are delighted to be co-funding this groundbreaking new initiative, which is critical to the growth of the cyber security sector in the region and will create a competitive advantage for the CCR against other UK regions. Cardiff University and USW are recognised by the National Cyber Security Centre (part of GCHQ) as Academic Centres of Excellence in research and education.
“Their work underpins groundbreaking research that has seeded spinouts and SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises], and been translated into larger businesses,” she said. “This creates a strong, sustainable supply chain in Wales, recognised and valued by its businesses and public services partners who also have a significant stake in the future of this sector. Having these ingredients makes us a nationally excellent cyber security ecosystem.”
The partners believe the new hub will also serve to create a “step change” for the existing cyber sector in Wales, bringing together new partners and collaborators in coordinated, cluster-based activities. It is also planned for the hub to become a partner to security organisations based around GCHQ in nearby Cheltenham and elsewhere in the UK.
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The hub launches alongside the NCSC’s annual CyberUK convention, which is returning to Newport this week as a physical event after a two-year hiatus due to Covid-19.
The NCSC’s deputy director for cyber growth, Chris Ensor, a frequent contributor to the discourse on cyber skills development, commented: “The Cyber Innovation Hub (CIH) is a welcome addition to South Wales’ already impressive cyber security ecosystem, bringing benefits not only to the local area but the UK as a whole. The NCSC is looking forward to supporting the CIH on its journey of driving the transformation and growth of cyber innovation.”