Cheltenham’s Cyber Future. Challenges and Opportunities

On Thursday 11th March, Bruce Gregory, Managing Director of Hub8 and Director of CyNam gave a fascinating overview of the town’s cyber ambitions and how we should, collectively, take advantage of this huge initiative.

Cyber security is not just something that’s relevant to governments, large corporates and massive databases. It is intrinsic to almost every digital transaction or communication we make, on every connected device. Its future will be closely connected to that of AI, robotics, Fintech and ecommerce to name but a few.

The market is forecast to exceed $320 billion dollars by 2025. That’s about half the size of the global mobile phone market. A recent PWC survey found that cyber security was a factor in half of all major business decisions.

As home to GCHQ, Cheltenham is the natural location for the UK’s “cyber capital” serving a global market. It already has 6 times the level of cyber businesses than anywhere in the UK and is the home to a number of local offices of large multinationals.

To realise the potential, access to the right specialist talent is essential. To address this, Hub8 and CyNam are forging strong links with academia in the region including Gloucestershire College which now offers Cyber Security degree apprenticeships in conjunction with UWE in Bristol. The Golden Valley initiative is developing connections with several major universities.

What about infrastructure?

Hub8 – the cyber dedicated workspace is now established in the Brewery Quarter and work is expected to start on the Minster Exchange in the near future. Situated next to St Mary’s Church, this will be a beacon for the town’s cyber ambitions, incorporating flexible work and educational spaces along with a 250 seat performance arena for Festival and other events. It will house our Growth Hub network and bring a whole new dimension to the town centre. It is scheduled to open later this year.

Combined these facilities will provide a network of innovation spaces in Cheltenham that bring together best-in-class start-ups, SMEs and global companies in the cyber-tech, digital and creative sectors on the one part and academia, government and the wider community on the other to create the ideal platform for organic growth, collaboration and serendipity to occur in one place.

The Golden Valley development, right next to GCHQ will deliver a unique new campus for the regions burgeoning cyber-tech ecosystem along with a major housing development. This will deliver a huge economic boost to the town and surrounding area.

While access to London could be improved further, this development is well located for the M5 and right next to Gloucester Airport, which itself has exciting plans. (Watch the video on our site and watch out for a future event on this!)

To date, CyNam has helped these move forward by coordinating contributions from the LEP, central and local government and many other key players, while Alex Chalk MP has been a vocal supporter from the outset.

The opportunity for local business

All of these developments will create new supply chains and demand for goods and services – from marketing, product design and professional services to catering, construction or pretty much any kind of service.

Cheltenham businesses should be at the head of the queue, here.

How do you get involved?

 It’s vital that local businesses support this crucial development for the town – individually or collectively through organisations like the Chamber. And that they keep abreast of progress, understand the organisations and people involved and have the chance to engage with them.

We will continue to bring you news but the best way to do this is to follow CyNam. Sign up to the newsletter, attend their events.

This will help you get familiar with the developments, assess how they might affect your business and if appropriate , put together a sales and marketing plan.

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John Morgan Partnership

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