Lancaster University: Importance of creating a North West Cyber Corridor in spotlight at launch of Lancashire Cyber Alliance

Lancaster University‘s role in helping harness a multi-billion pound opportunity around cyber security was highlighted during the launch of the new Lancashire Cyber Alliance (LCA).

The network has been set up to foster collaborations among cyber security professionals and is open to organisations including SMEs, large businesses, skills providers and public sector organisations.

It was born following the announcement that the government’s new National Cyber Force (NCF) will be located in Samlesbury – and was launched during an event at the University of Central Lancashire, and online, on Tuesday 22 February.

During the event, a senior officer from the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) spoke about the organisation’s current development of a strategic hub in Manchester, which is set to employ 3,000 workers by 2029, and the creation of a “cyber corridor from Manchester to Lancaster and beyond, with Samlesbury at its heart”.

He added: “Manchester treated GCHQ as an apex employer, similar to the BBC moving to Salford. The National Cyber Force is a similar opportunity for Lancashire.”

Dr Rebecca Robinson, Programme Manager of Lancashire Cyber Foundry at Lancaster University, spoke to the audience about the fully-funded opportunities available to local businesses to protect their organisations and grow through secure digitalisation.

She added: “I’m delighted to be part of this community. The LCA is a really good opportunity for SMEs and academics in this sector to learn from each other and help move collaboration forward.”

Dr Andrea Cullen, Lead Tutor and Co-Founder of commercial training provider CapsLock, discussed issues with skills and recruitment and a lack of representation of women and the neurodivergent in the cyber sector – and ways the industry is moving forward to address this.

Zain Javed, from Lancaster University-based company Mitigate Cyber, talked about the scale of the problem in the UK today, with 65,000 cyber-attacks on small businesses every day.

The Lancashire Cyber Alliance is supported by the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership and the Lancashire Digital Skills Partnership. It is a spoke of the North West Cyber Security Cluster (NWCSC), which provides a voice for the region and is affiliated with the UK Cyber Cluster Collaboration (UKC3) and the DCMS (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport).

During his opening remarks at the event, UCLan Vice-Chancellor Professor Graham Baldwin welcomed the National Cyber Force and said it was important that support for the North did not just focus on the metropolitan centres of Manchester and Liverpool.

He added: “If we don’t maximise on this investment, we have missed a significant opportunity.”

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