USW backing for Cyber Innovation Hub to develop growth of cybersecurity cluster in South Wales

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The University of South Wales (USW) is a collaborator in a proposal to establish a Cyber Innovation Hub which has attracted commitments of funding from Welsh Government and the Cardiff Capital Region City Deal.

The £6m co-investment in a Cardiff University-led Cyber Innovation Hub (CIH) is expected to drive the transformation and growth of a cybersecurity cluster in South Wales.

Funding is being made available to a consortium led by Cardiff to develop the partnership with collaborators including USW, Airbus, Alacrity Cyber, CGI, Thales NDEC, and Tramshed Tech.

Backed by an initial £5.68m over two years from Welsh Government and Cardiff Capital Region (CCR), CIH expects to attract £15m in total over five years. 

CIH expects to train more than 1,000 cyber-skilled people and create a co-ordinated catalyst for new products, high-growth businesses, and talent in the region.

Developed under the directorship of Pete Burnap, Professor of Data Science & Cybersecurity, School of Computer Science and Informatics, CIH aims to boost the number of cyber security businesses anchored in South East Wales, and enhance cybersecurity skills to widen and diversify the cybersecurity talent pool.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “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. The pandemic has highlighted just how important cyber innovation is in supporting and protecting information-sharing whilst offering data and insight to help keep the region moving and growing.”

By 2030, CIH aims to create at least 27 successful cybersecurity start-ups, leverage £24m in private equity from the initial Hub investment, and upskill 1,750 individuals with cyber expertise.

CIH will bring together market-driven cybersecurity challenges via support from Primes such as Airbus, Thales and CGI, and the NCSC-recognised research and skills excellence at Cardiff University’s Centre for Cyber Research, together with USW.

Professor Paul Harrison, USW Pro Vice-Chancellor, Innovation and Engagement, said: “USW already has wide-ranging expertise in supporting businesses operating in the cyber sector.

“The National Cyber Security Academy, which is based at our Newport Campus, has pioneered partnership working for students and cyber businesses, with the undergraduates being embedded in the companies as part of their studies. This approach has helped us be named at Cyber University of the Year by the National Cyber Awards for the past three years.

“This expertise will help to ensure the CIH will be a great success in further developing the cyber expertise of this part of Wales.”     

Kellie Beirne, CCR City Deal Director, said: “We are delighted to be co-funding this ground-breaking 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 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 ground-breaking research that has seeded spinouts and SME’s and been translated into larger businesses. 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 cybersecurity ecosystem.”

Chris Ensor, NCSC Deputy Director for Cyber Growth, said: “The Cyber Innovation Hub 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.”

In time, the Hub will transition to a sustainable, standalone organisation. Delivery of the project will be geographically dispersed, bringing economic and social benefits across the CCR. 

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