City leaders and industry players welcome Cyber Academy and Knowledge Quarter plans

Cllr Debbie Wilcox, Leader of Newport City Council, at NCSA event. Newport - 7/6/16. Neil Gibson

Cllr Debbie Wilcox addressing the NCSA event

Leaders of Newport’s civic life and business community have joined senior executives of the UK’s leading technology companies to mark the launch of Newport’s National Cyber Security Academy at the University of South Wales’s Newport City Campus.

The pilot National Cyber Security Academy (NCSA), the first of its kind in Wales and a major UK initiative, is being set up at USW’s Newport City Campus, and will take its first students in October. 

Also involving Welsh digital innovation company Innovation Point and major industry players, the NCSA will work to close an expected skills gap in the cyber security sector. By 2019 it is forecast that an additional 4.5 million personnel will be needed worldwide. 

With funding support from the Welsh Government, the £500,000 pilot initiative involves a cohort of current USW Computer Forensics and Computer Security undergraduates. They will work on real-world projects set by NCSA partners, while also ‘flight testing’ the course to ensure it meets the latest cyber security challenges. It will develop as industry partners identify new challenges in the cyber security environment. 

Welcoming the presence of leaders of business including Airbus, General Dynamics, and QinetiQ, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of South Wales, Professor Julie Lydon, said: “Our role is to get people into jobs and it’s to add value.  94% of our graduates are in employment or further study with six months, and industry is recognising the value of what we do.  Earlier this month we had the ultimate seal of approval: the experts at GCHQ gave their provisional certification to our Masters course in computer forensics.  That’s the most prestigious endorsement anywhere in the rather private world of cyber, and the experts who won that tick in the box are the academic leaders of the new National Cyber Security Academy, right here, in Newport.”

Speaking to the audience of academic and business leaders, Cllr Debbie Wilcox, the new Leader of Newport City Council, said: “Initiatives like the National Cyber Security Academy are so important because they give Newport an identity.  They put us on the map.  We’re not a second Cardiff – we’ve got much more ambition than that.   And our university has a part to play.   The University of South Wales started in the business heart of what was then a growing docks town.  Now, they’re bringing the great industries of our day back into the city, giving us an industrial heart as well as the thriving retail heart at Friars Walk and Commercial Street.”

The NCSA is part of plans for a £60m Newport Knowledge Quarter, which would see USW work in partnership with Coleg Gwent to build a new learning campus in the city’s riverbank area.  Declaring support for the initiative, Cllr Wilcox added:

“People sometimes talk about a knowledge economy.  Let me tell you, it’s impossible to build an economy on ignorance.   That’s why the Newport Knowledge Quarter matters so much.   I think it’s good that the University is committing to the City Centre and wants to put its money where its mouth is.  The potential of bringing our FE college next to the University is huge.  The shared development that means students from Newport and the region can see progression in action, opening up that University is for people like them.  The ambition is huge, and it deserves the support of everyone who cares about Newport's future.”

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