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Chris Lau

Head of Inward Investment
GFirst LEP

A POWERFUL PARTNERSHIP

The private and public sector have joined forces to transform Cheltenham from the centre outwards. GFirst LEP is one of the key players in this partnership.

The vision for Cyber Central is shared by a powerful partnership including Cheltenham Borough Council, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire County Council, Homes England and GFirst LEP.

GFirst LEP is the Local Enterprise Partnership for Gloucestershire. Their aim is to make Gloucestershire great by driving sustainable economic growth throughout the county, creating jobs and business opportunities for thousands of people.

So it’s no surprise that GFirst LEP is right behind Cyber Central and has got on board to help shape the project’s future. Dr Diane Savory OBE, Chair of GFirst LEP and ex COO of SuperGroup plc said “Cheltenham is internationally recognised as the ‘cradle of cyber innovation for the UK’. Our investment of £22million is the largest of all our project investments and will fund the necessary road infrastructure to deliver this ambitious project, bringing high-skilled jobs and housing to the area.”

Chris Lau, Head of Inward Investment at GFirst LEP, is particularly excited by the transformation that the development will bring to Gloucestershire. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for companies in the UK,” he explains, “Only very rarely do you get the chance to participate in something brand new and this is one of those special moments.”

A development with strong foundations

Lau is keen to point out though that Cyber Central hasn’t suddenly appeared out of nowhere. Straddling the Tewkesbury & Cheltenham Borough boundary, the site was allocated in the joint core strategy in 2017. In Gloucestershire’s draft Local Industrial Strategy developed by GFirst LEP, cyber- tech was identified as a key priority sector for the county. Cyber Central will help fulfil the ambitions of positioning Gloucestershire as the cyber-tech capital of the UK and beyond. Thanks to the draw of GCHQ and affiliated businesses, the cyber sector is already well represented here, with over 11,000 existing talented professionals already supporting GCHQ’s work in Cheltenham.

“The potential for Cyber Central should not be viewed in isolation for the cyber-tech sector.” says Lau.. “With the growing importance of digitisation, artificial intelligence and Industry 4.0 that is shifting industry boundaries in other sectors such as advanced manufacturing, agri-tech or fin-tech, Cyber Central will provide a platform for innovative companies to tap into the cross-sector expertise.” If investors and businesses need any persuasion of the merits of Cyber Central, the fact that GFirst LEP is devoted to the project shows the level of commitment that’s already being generated across the public sector.

Madeline Howard

Director
CYNAM

A NEW GENERATION OF INSPIRATION

“A unique county-wide initiative means the talent to fuel the local cyber industry is already here” explains Madeline Howard, Director of CyNam.

To me, Cyber Central is the logical conclusion of what we already have in Cheltenham and Gloucestershire. As Director of CyNam, the platform for cyber innovation within Gloucestershire, I see world-leading collaboration and innovation on a daily basis. We already have Hub 8, which is the physical manifestation of the cyber community, where start-ups and SMEs are innovating with global and government bodies on new ideas. But we also have cyber embedded across the schools here as well. The digital and technological know-how really does start at a very young age.

A cyber hub for students

Here in Gloucestershire, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has piloted its Cyber Schools Hub initiative. The initiative fosters collaboration between local schools, the NCSC, local companies and global organisations who share the aim of encouraging young people to engage with computer science and cyber security principles. Overall the initiative seeks to give young students the space and the opportunity to excel and explode into the market of cyber security and innovation. We’re showing them the industries that are based here and the amazing careers they can have by going into the cyber world.

The initiative also aims to dramatically increase the number of students that are inspired by computer science so they go on to take the subject at GCSE and A Level. Nearly every secondary school in the county has signed up to it which shows the level of commitment we’re seeing across Gloucestershire.

Over 40 industries have engaged with the initiative, including everything from global multinationals through to local SMEs. We’re talking about big names like Rolls Royce, EA Games and BT. These businesses are engaging with talented and inquisitive minds across our schools.

Inspiring young women with cyber

So many students are involved in the Cyber Schools Hub initiative, opting to study Computer Science and taking their interest through into Further Education, whether this is onto university or staying local and taking an apprenticeship. I’m delighted to say that a large number of girls are also taking part. We’re moving beyond cyber being about sitting behind a keyboard and showcasing all the opportunities and career paths available.

In November 2019, we held an event where over 800 girls from Year 8 came along to engage with 16 industry partners and take part in the NCSC’s CyberFirst Girls competition. At the event, we saw six teams from Gloucestershire go through to the semi-finals, which is a fantastic achievement and demonstrates how investment at grass roots level is really paying dividends for the county as a whole.

We are the only county in the UK that has this initiative running. I think it’s safe to say that it’s pretty unique across the globe too. The students that are taking part are realising that they don’t need to leave Gloucestershire to flourish, that there’s an exciting and rewarding career pipeline right here on their doorstep.

Bringing opportunity home

Cyber Central shows them that there will be houses and communities for them here too. Before, graduates and school leavers often had to move out of the county to follow their dreams as there wasn’t that much affordable housing. But Cyber Central changes all that.

If you’re a young person coming out of school or university and you’ve got ideas – say you want to create a start-up – you know there’s now a hot-house where you can work and live. We’re going to see those crucial smaller diamond start-ups blossoming very quickly.

And what a place for it all to happen. I’m from Gloucestershire myself but I’ve seen enough of the world to know just how special this community really is. Where else do you have a Science Festival, a Literature Festival, a world-class race course, and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty? I almost forgot the vast selection of high performing state and independant schools, and that we are within 75 minutes of 14 universities. If you’re hoping to put down roots and start a family, there just isn’t anywhere better.

Paul Fletcher

Chief Executive
BCS

THE FUTURE IS CYBER. AND THE FUTURE IS HERE

Digital is the disrupter that has transformed every sector and every business. Yet it’s only just getting started.

It’s hard to think of any industry or indeed any business process that hasn’t been turned upside down by the digital revolution. From manufacturing lines to company accounts, everything we take for granted has been transformed. Yet there is much more transformation to come.

The Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, 5G… so much is on the horizon. Our world is going to become more connected than ever before. The advent of super-connectivity opens up just as many threats as opportunities, as a recent survey by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT highlights.

BCS surveyed over 300 senior IT leaders in the UK, asking them about their main concerns and the key issues facing businesses today. The answers were overwhelming. “The one thing that keeps them all awake at night is cyber security,” explains Paul Fletcher, Chief Executive of BCS.

The threat environment is moving so quickly that companies are having to constantly evolve and innovate to keep up with the threats. “Over 50% of the people who responded put cyber security as a top priority for 2020 and beyond,” explains Fletcher, “That’s above cloud or any other technology.”

National defence

The issue goes beyond individual businesses and keeping customer or industry data safe. “We all understand these days that technology underpins everything we do in work and at home,” says Paul Fletcher of BCS, “But more pivotal than that is it underpins our national infrastructure, so the importance of cyber technology in protecting our country’s key assets is paramount.”

That’s why Cyber Central is such a vital development not just for Cheltenham and the South West but for the nation as a whole. GCHQ has a 100-year heritage of protecting national security and our national infrastructure as well as businesses and citizens that operate within them. Cyber Central builds on that heritage to ensure that GCHQ and other experts can continue to protect our national security and our country’s key assets.

GCHQ continues to this day an unbroken tradition that started with the code breakers at Bletchley Park. This tradition has drawn diverse minds together to solve some of the nation’s hardest problems. This is a unique source of creativity, imagination and innovation that is unrivalled elsewhere in the UK or even globally. The growth of Cyber Central means that for the first time more people and organisations will be able to benefit from this source. This will be a wellspring for the future. This is the heart of Cyber Central.

“This is a fantastic region to become a tech hub,” says Fletcher. “We’ve got the universities, we’ve got the organisations providing apprenticeships and so it’s the perfect environment to develop people’s skills to find work in innovative companies and support the whole cybertech industry.”

Bruce Gregory

Managing Director
HUB8

THE OUTPOST – A MEETING OF MINDS

Businesses in the South West welcome the opportunities and growth that Cyber Central will bring. We hosted a discussion between Bruce Gregory, MD at Hub8, and Paul Coles, English Regions Director at BT, to check on the consensus.”

XO: So Bruce, can we begin with just a little background about Hub8? What is it and why is it so important to Cheltenham & Gloucestershire?

Bruce: Hub8 is the physical manifestation of the flourishing cyber tech community in Cheltenham and the wider region. It’s delivered in partnership with CyNam (Cyber Cheltenham) which is a non-profit organisation. Hub8 really is supercharging the community – it’s a critical platform to enable the sector to grow in anticipation of Cyber Central.

Paul: Speaking on behalf of BT, this is a really exciting location in the town and the South West. BT are incredibly excited to be here actually. You’re at full capacity aren’t you?

Bruce: By April we will be very close to full which really demonstrates the demand for an innovative workspace that enables start-ups to scale without friction and SMEs and global giants true flexibility.

XO: And how many months did it take you to get to this point?

Bruce: We opened just over 4 months ago in September 2019 and the community is really burgeoning; with global giants including Sopra Steria, DXC, Capita and SCC to some of the UK’s most exciting SMEs such as Immersive Labs, Deep3 and SureVine to start-ups that are scaling rapidly including Aquilai, iHackLabs and Trust Stamp that have come through the NCSC Cyber Accelerator (based in Cheltenham).

XO: BT is taking cyber in Cheltenham seriously too, Paul?

Paul: We’ve been hugely committed to the area for a number of years, we have something like 8,000 employees in the region so I’m really excited about developments like Hub8 and Cyber Central. We’ve got something like 3,000 cyber specialists and 16 security operation centres across the globe, yet Cheltenham is somewhere we really put a lot of focus on.

XO: Does the success of Hub8 naturally lead on to a development like Cyber Central?

Bruce: Definitely, that’s our vision and a vision that is shared by key stakeholders who will be influential in the delivery of Cyber Central. Hub8 needs to keep on scaling and we’re excited to deliver Phase II in Q4 this year with plans for additional space in 2021. We’re supercharging the community ready for Cyber Central in 2023.

Paul: If Cyber Central ends up being a place where businesses turn up and do their stuff then that’s great, but it would be even better if it became a convening point – not just for the South West or for the UK but globally. There’ll be brilliant brands here and at BT we’d love to see a lot of outreach, not just to pupils who could be the cyber specialists of the future, but to businesses that are concerned about cyber and want to make online transactions secure.

Bruce: Like Hub8, it’s not just about the workspace, it’s the events, it’s the whole community. We’re working in partnership with NCSC and CyNam to support the Cyber Schools Hub initiative to inspire the next generation towards careers in cyber tech.

Paul: That’s right. The links with schools too. There are lots of children sitting in primary school right now thinking, “What is my future going to be?” Well, there’s a huge, exciting future in cyber for them right here. One of the really exciting opportunities for Cheltenham is how it gets the education system to flow from primary to secondary and tertiary education to produce the type of future employees that people need in the future.

BT AND CYBER SECURITY

BT’s Skills for Tomorrow programme is designed to help children, parents and employers be fully equipped for the digital world.

BT deflects around 4,000 cyberattacks every single day.

BT prevents 135 million connections to malware sites every month.

BT is the third highest spender in R&D across every sector.

BT has held world records for the highest speeds across fibre connectivity.

DID YOU KNOW?

Cyber security has been in BT’s DNA for 70 years. It was a member of staff at BT, or the Post Office as it was known then, who created Colossus, the world’s first

Paul Coles

English Regions Director
BT

THE OUTPOST – A MEETING OF MINDS

Businesses in the South West welcome the opportunities and growth that Cyber Central will bring. We hosted a discussion between Bruce Gregory, MD at Hub8, and Paul Coles, English Regions Director at BT, to check on the consensus.”

XO: So Bruce, can we begin with just a little background about Hub8? What is it and why is it so important to Cheltenham & Gloucestershire?

Bruce: Hub8 is the physical manifestation of the flourishing cyber tech community in Cheltenham and the wider region. It’s delivered in partnership with CyNam (Cyber Cheltenham) which is a non-profit organisation. Hub8 really is supercharging the community – it’s a critical platform to enable the sector to grow in anticipation of Cyber Central.

Paul: Speaking on behalf of BT, this is a really exciting location in the town and the South West. BT are incredibly excited to be here actually. You’re at full capacity aren’t you?

Bruce: By April we will be very close to full which really demonstrates the demand for an innovative workspace that enables start-ups to scale without friction and SMEs and global giants true flexibility.

XO: And how many months did it take you to get to this point?

Bruce: We opened just over 4 months ago in September 2019 and the community is really burgeoning; with global giants including Sopra Steria, DXC, Capita and SCC to some of the UK’s most exciting SMEs such as Immersive Labs, Deep3 and SureVine to start-ups that are scaling rapidly including Aquilai, iHackLabs and Trust Stamp that have come through the NCSC Cyber Accelerator (based in Cheltenham).

XO: BT is taking cyber in Cheltenham seriously too, Paul?

Paul: We’ve been hugely committed to the area for a number of years, we have something like 8,000 employees in the region so I’m really excited about developments like Hub8 and Cyber Central. We’ve got something like 3,000 cyber specialists and 16 security operation centres across the globe, yet Cheltenham is somewhere we really put a lot of focus on.

XO: Does the success of Hub8 naturally lead on to a development like Cyber Central?

Bruce: Definitely, that’s our vision and a vision that is shared by key stakeholders who will be influential in the delivery of Cyber Central. Hub8 needs to keep on scaling and we’re excited to deliver Phase II in Q4 this year with plans for additional space in 2021. We’re supercharging the community ready for Cyber Central in 2023.

Paul: If Cyber Central ends up being a place where businesses turn up and do their stuff then that’s great, but it would be even better if it became a convening point – not just for the South West or for the UK but globally. There’ll be brilliant brands here and at BT we’d love to see a lot of outreach, not just to pupils who could be the cyber specialists of the future, but to businesses that are concerned about cyber and want to make online transactions secure.

Bruce
: Like Hub8, it’s not just about the workspace, it’s the events, it’s the whole community. We’re working in partnership with NCSC and CyNam to support the Cyber Schools Hub initiative to inspire the next generation towards careers in cyber tech.

Paul
: That’s right. The links with schools too. There are lots of children sitting in primary school right now thinking, “What is my future going to be?” Well, there’s a huge, exciting future in cyber for them right here. One of the really exciting opportunities for Cheltenham is how it gets the education system to flow from primary to secondary and tertiary education to produce the type of future employees that people need in the future.

BT AND CYBER SECURITY


BT’s Skills for Tomorrow programme is designed to help children, parents and employers be fully equipped for the digital world.

BT deflects around 4,000 cyberattacks every single day.

BT prevents 135 million connections to malware sites every month.

BT is the third highest spender in R&D across every sector.

BT has held world records for the highest speeds across fibre connectivity.

DID YOU KNOW?


Cyber security has been in BT’s DNA for 70 years. It was a member of staff at BT, or the Post Office as it was known then, who created Colossus, the world’s first

Nick Sturge

Former Director and Founder
ENGINE SHED – BRISTOL

HIGH FLYERS

Nick Sturge MBE, Former Director and Founder of the Engine Shed in Bristol, explains what it takes to drive innovation forward.

Gloucestershire is the natural location to become the UK’s next technology hub, as there are so many different pieces of the jigsaw that are already in place. We’ve got the global companies and the smaller, growing companies that are a vital part of any ecosystem, as they can feed and grow off each other. We’ve also got the infrastructure and the connectivity to the rest of the world.

Add to all that the fact that Cheltenham is a great place to live in. The higher education sector in the region is superb, with some of the best universities in the cyber sector – five of GCHQ’s Academic Centres of Excellence and two of the world’s top 6 university-backed business incubators are within 55 miles of Cheltenham - not to mention the secondary education provision in Cheltenham that is first class. So we already have all the ingredients for accelerating growth.

Diversity and talent

The future of any industry is about access to diverse talent. Diverse perspectives fuel growth – at leadership level and product development level. To enable that, we have to have diverse pathways for young people and for people retraining and returning to work. Education is a vital part of the jigsaw for embedding our cyber future.

The deep science skills are critical, as we’re moving into a world that we don’t fully understand yet. Oxford, Warwick, Cardiff, Bristol, Birmingham UWE, Gloucestershire and Bath Universities are all within easy reach of Cyber Central, so we have that super-rich intellectual science readily available. There aren’t many places on the planet with that density of academic prowess.

The next generation coming into the sector will have lessons for us all. They will be true digital natives and will bring exciting new perspectives that we will all benefit from. Training in the core STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) subjects but also the creative and other adjacent sectors will make all the difference, sparking brilliant thought that will create new products and services and generate economic activity.

So employers will have to become more inclusive and the education system will have to supply truly diverse talent.

The younger generation are also more entrepreneurial and the existing Cyber Schools programme and accelerators will nurture that.

Cyber Central will link employers with diverse talent - It will be an enabler to bring the the supply and demand together and nurture that talent.

GCHQ is key to all of this as a significant employer in the region that attracts a richness of talent. This public sector innovator acts as a magnet, attracting businesses to locate in Cheltenham and we’re seeing big global corporates as well as smaller, growing companies clustering together in the area. The magnet grows, if you like, with businesses in the innovation ecosystem drawing in even more talent.

Diversity of sectors is also critical to the growth of a regional economy – and Gloucestershire boasts academic and cluster strengths in Agritech, financial services, energy, automotive, aerospace and advanced engineering and environmental technologies. It’s also home to Bloodhound, the world’s fastest car. Another example of world-leading innovation that is only possible in the fertile ecosystem around Cheltenham and throughout Gloucestershire.

Four-fold strength

To create the enabling factor within these forces is really exciting. Add academia to that as well and you have the perfect quadruple helix of the public sector, academia, large companies and start-ups. The fusion of these four is where we getthe real spark, creating that vital and exciting opportunity for the economy. We’ll have the entrepreneurs, world-leading scientists and technologists, the customers, the investors, the spaces to train, innovate, collaborate and scale.

Cyber Central will be the enabler as well as a benchmark for the nation and beyond. It will showcase how collaboration and interaction in cyber really works. It will also be sustainable, both in terms of seeding innovation that drives economic activity and in terms of the environmental viewpoint. The younger generation coming to work here expects sustainability as a given, across housing, the employment space and transport. That’s why sustainability is at the heart of the plans for Cyber Central.

A unique and thrilling opportunity


The opportunity here is unprecedented. There are 1000 members of the Cheltenham cyber network – CyNam, and at least sixteen Fortune500 companies and 9 FTSE 100/250 companies related to cyber-tech, with operations within half an hour of the development. Together, we can supercharge all of these elements and make it a global success. A platform for a future of digital wellness for society.

What do entrepreneurs look for when they’re starting a business? A place where they can recruit, a place where it is attractive and sustainable to live, a place that is connected to the rest of the world, where existing networks mean you can sell your products and collaborate with other like-minded businesses.

Cyber Central ticks all these boxes. It is an excellent place to start a business and a thrilling opportunity for the future of the UK.

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