An official ground breaking ceremony has marked the start of work on the £9 million Cyber Quarter – Midlands Centre for Cyber Security in Hereford.
The trail-blazing project on Skylon Park, Hereford Enterprise Zone, is a joint venture between the University of Wolverhampton and Herefordshire Council and part-funded by the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Professor Geoff Layer, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Wolverhampton, said: “The aim of the centre is to tackle the growing threat of cyber attacks which could significantly impact local, regional and national businesses.
“The University will provide significant resources for research and development through our Wolverhampton Cyber Research Institute (WCRI) which is developing and leading an International Cyber Knowledge Hub to tackle threats in cyberspace with focus on providing expertise in relation to security for critical national infrastructure – particularly in terms of healthcare, transport and our physical environment including power grids, water networks and the nuclear industry.
“The shared facilities will also allow private sector businesses to benefit from the university’s networks and expertise as well as make use of the centre’s specialist training rooms and laboratory spaces.”
Cllr David Hitchiner, Leader of Herefordshire Council, said: “We are very excited about this joint venture with the University of Wolverhampton, which is a key investment in creating more knowledge-based jobs in Herefordshire.
“The new Midlands Centre for Cyber Security is a fantastic facility which promises to attract new hi-tech investment, draw expertise and create high-income jobs in the County. It will create a range of opportunities in the growing cyber security sector in Herefordshire, which already has an established, highly regarded security industry.”
Andrew Manning Cox, chairman of Hereford Enterprise Zone and Marches LEP board member, said the new centre would further underline the zone’s position as a natural home for cyber security, business, research and innovation.
“Skylon Park has already been highlighted by the Government as having a crucial role to play in the growth of cyber research in this country and the new centre will put the zone firmly at the heart of this vital field.
“The national and international importance of the work which will be undertaken at the centre will act as a beacon of excellence, attracting still more investment at Skylon, the only Enterprise Zone in the country to focus on the defence and security sector.
“The result will be good news for Skylon Park, Hereford and the Marches region as a whole.”
Professor Prashant Pillai, Professor of Cyber Security and Director of WCRI, said: “The research group has been set up at the University to work on various security aspects like cryptographic solutions, security protocols, attack patterns and prediction, threat modelling, secure software testing and real time security analytics.
“We have also developed a wide range of cybersecurity CPD training designed to appeal to seasoned professionals as well as general enthusiasts, helping people and businesses to understand the best way to defend their products, systems and network.”
The 2,000 square metre building, designed by Associated Architects and built by Speller Metcalfe, will provide significant resources for research and development across three cyber laboratories, advanced training facilities as part of the WCRI and additional business space for up to 16 cyber companies.
The centre, which secured £2.82m of funding via the Marches LEP’s Growth Deal with Government in 2017, is part of the new Cyber Quarter at Skylon Park, already home to numerous defence and security sector businesses.
The new centre incorporates a full height glass atrium to provide a dual break-out space and function hall, alongside the main three storey building that houses business suites, innovation rooms, IT workshops and a ‘Cyber Range’ – a cutting edge facility that will defend against the global rise of hacking.
The Cyber Quarter – Midlands Centre for Cyber Security is set to reach BREEAM Very Good, an industry-leading standard of sustainability and is set to open in Summer 2020.