£20m se­cu­rity cen­tre first fruit of Val­leys project

Western Mail - - BUSINESS - SION BARRY Busi­ness ed­i­tor [email protected]­line.co.uk

THE first project un­der the Welsh Gov­ern­ment’s Tech Val­leys ini­tia­tive will see a £20m cy­ber se­cu­rity cen­tre in Blae­nau Gwent in col­lab­o­ra­tion with French tech gi­ant Thales.

The Na­tional Dig­i­tal Ex­ploita­tion Cen­tre (NDEC) will be the first re­search and de­vel­op­ment fa­cil­ity of its kind in Wales, and will pro­vide the per­fect set­ting for SMEs and mi­crobusi­nesses to test and de­velop their dig­i­tal con­cepts.

The Welsh Gov­ern­ment has com­mit­ted £100m in fund­ing to the Tech Val­leys project over the next decade, which aims to cre­ate 1,500 hi-tech jobs.

The ini­tial project is ex­pected to cre­ate 11 jobs. How­ever, its value added will be felt much wider in the econ­omy by sup­port­ing indige­nous firms to ex­ploit dig­i­tal op­por­tu­ni­ties glob­ally and well as pro­vid­ing the skills and the knowl­edge to se­cure UK projects and fund­ing - in­clud­ing from the UK Gov­ern­ment’s in­dus­trial strat­egy.

The cen­tre is ex­pected to be­come op­er­a­tional in 2021

The NDEC will be de­liv­ered by Thales in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Univer­sity of South Wales (USW).

The univer­sity will run an ad­vanced cy­ber in­sti­tute at the cen­tre that will pro­vide a base for aca­demic re­search, and will also op­er­ate a dig­i­tal ed­u­ca­tion cen­tre that will en­able SMEs, schools and in­di­vid­u­als with the skills they need to pro­tect them­selves on­line.

Thales have al­ready moved into a project of­fice at Ebbw Vales Works site. Con­struc­tion work is sched­uled to start in the spring. Both the Welsh Gov­ern­ment and Thales have com­mit­ted £10m each to the project which is ex­pected to gen­er­ate sig­nif­i­cant in­come.

Econ­omy Min­is­ter Ken Skates said: “I am de­lighted that the Welsh Gov­ern­ment is work­ing in part­ner­ship with global tech­nol­ogy com­pany Thales on a new £20m cy­ber cen­tre that will be lo­cated in Blae­nau Gwent and right at the heart of our Tech Val­leys project.

“I am con­fi­dent that through our part­ner­ship with Thales and the Univer­sity of South Wales we will work to stim­u­late and cre­ate em­ploy­ment in high value tech­nol­ogy busi­nesses – an am­bi­tion that is right at the heart of our Tech Val­leys project.”

Gareth Wil­liams, vice pres­i­dent, se­cure com­mu­ni­ca­tions and in­for­ma­tion Sys­tems, Thales, said: “We are very pleased to be work­ing with the Welsh Gov­ern­ment, Univer­sity of South Wales and Blae­nau Gwent Coun­cil to de­liver the NDEC. This will act as a cor­ner­stone of our cy­ber se­cu­rity ca­pa­bil­i­ties in the UK, pro­vid­ing a test bed for our tech­nol­ogy, while also pro­vid­ing a cat­a­lyst for re­gen­er­a­tion in the re­gion. This fa­cil­ity will be a cen­tre of cy­ber and dig­i­tal de­vel­op­ment and ed­u­ca­tion, and a con­nec­tion for South Wales to ma­jor tech­nol­ogy cen­tres across the United King­dom.”

Pro­fes­sor Julie Ly­don, Univer­sity of South Wales (USW) vice chan­cel­lor, said: “USW is al­ready a recog­nised ex­pert in cy­ber se­cu­rity, with our New­port-based Na­tional Cy­ber Se­cu­rity Academy (NCSA) work­ing closely with busi­nesses to give stu­dents real-life ex­pe­ri­ence in the sec­tor.

“This ex­per­tise in pre­par­ing stu­dents for a ca­reer in in­dus­try means we are ide­ally placed to sup­port the NDEC’s aim of har­ness­ing aca­demic re­search and grad­u­ate ed­u­ca­tion to de­velop mar­ket in­sight, en­hance tech­no­log­i­cal ca­pa­bil­ity, and de­velop a skilled labour force in Ebbw Vale and the wider South Wales re­gion through its ed­u­ca­tional out­reach, CPD cour­ses, and sup­port for SMEs.

“This project will be a sig­nif­i­cant step in build­ing the re­gion’s rep­u­ta­tion in the ever-ex­pand­ing global mar­ket for cy­ber grad­u­ates and re­search ex­per­tise.”

David Pow­ell

> Ken Skates, the Econ­omy Min­is­ter, has wel­comed the new cy­ber cen­tre

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