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Cheltenham Borough Council is seeking a development partner(s) to deliver the Golden Valley proposals.
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SUMMER EDITION OUT NOW
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Spring 2021
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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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