The Marches region is today singled out as having a major part to play in ambitious plans for a huge growth in hi-tech cyber sector jobs over the next seven years.
Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin are part of a special alliance which plans to double the number of jobs in the cyber security industry across its area by 2025 by tapping into the £64.5 billion global market.
Up to 10,000 people will be employed in the hi-tech sector under the plans outlined by the Cyber Resilience Alliance (CRA) – a consortium of over 100 commercial, private, public and voluntary organisations from across the Marches, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, Swindon and Wiltshire.
The CRA sets out its ambitious plans in a new science and innovation audit published by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy today – and says it wants the region to be known as the UK’s largest cluster of cyber security activity outside London.
Andrew Manning Cox, chairman of the Hereford Enterprise Zone, said: “This report underlines the fact that the Marches is ideally placed to become the natural home for high-tech, high-value jobs over the next decade.
“By building on the work we have already done to foster innovation and provide the infrastructure it needs to thrive, we can bring thousands of highly-skilled jobs to the area to build prosperity for years to come.”
Universities and Science Minister Chris Skidmore said: “We are world-leaders across a range of science and research disciplines, and the report published today show the whole nation contributes to that reputation. We are committed to building on these strengths and others in our modern Industrial Strategy.”
The audit singles out a number of projects across the Marches as helping drive growth, including Skylon Park in Hereford, the new Centre for Cyber Security in the city and the country’s first new university for 30 years.
It says Skylon Park – the Marches LEP’s designated Enterprise Zone and the only zone in the country to focus on the defence and security sector – will be at the heart of the growth plans.
The 110-hectare site has undergone an extensive multi-million redevelopment and has designated a specific seven acre site for a Cyber Campus.
Its centrepiece will be the new £9m Centre for Cyber Security being developed by the University of Wolverhampton and Herefordshire Council, with £2.82m of Growth Deal funding secured by the Marches LEP.
A CGI of how a training room at the new Centre for Cyber Security will look
It will create 190 high-value jobs when fully up and running and act as a magnet to other high-tech companies looking to relocate.
The report also highlights the planned New Model in Technology and Engineering (NMITE) in Hereford which will have facilities on Skylon Park. The ambitious project will deliver practical learning involving industry and public partners and is expected to provide courses in cyber security
And it says that the Marches is also home to several nationally and internationally significant bodies associated with defence, security and research, including Defence Fulfilment Centre (Telford), Special Air Service (SAS) Regiment and the associated Signals Regiment in Hereford. The report also highlights the agri-tech research work at Harper Adams University, and need to protect agri-digital processes from hackers.