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Thought Leadership Series: cyber-led ecosystems with Nick Sturge MBE


Cybercrime against SMEs has been spiralling since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. BRIM is dedicated to establishing a national network of Cyber Resilience Centres that can offer regional support and guidance to businesses of all sizes, but the pervasive nature of cyber in almost every aspect of modern living means that there is no one-sized-fits-all approach.

It is therefore essential that collaboration is encouraged and nurtured between universities, councils, private and public sector organisations, and policing to create a network of interlinking support systems to bolster businesses and educate on cyber security. The model for the Cyber Resilience Centres created by BRIM is responding to this.

The pandemic has shown a need for integration between businesses and national solution providers. Cheltenham Borough Council is in the process of establishing the Golden Valley Development, unlocking the full potential of the world-class cyber-led ecosystem adjacent to the Cheltenham bases of GCHQ, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and other major players. Golden Valley focuses on bringing multiple partners together to bring about economic prosperity, offering support and opportunities for SMEs nationwide, including through the West Midlands Cyber Resilience Centre, part of the CRC Network in the UK.

‘If this campus proves successful, it will set a new benchmark for how businesses and organisations work together’ said Nick Sturge MBE, UKSPA Honorary Member and Consultant to Cheltenham Borough Council. ‘Support for SMEs will be part of this environment and we want SMEs to be part of the conversation to help inform future solutions.’

For this latest blog in our thought leadership series, Nick talks more about the impact of cyber sector integration for businesses, and the importance of collaboration in delivering effective solutions through innovation campuses like Golden Valley.

‘We may be entering the deepest recession for 300 years. There have been 9 million people furloughed — across all sectors — and many businesses are in hibernation, clinging on and hoping for clarity of when the lockdown will end, what ‘post-lockdown’ will really mean and what state their own business, and their employees, will be in by then.

There are so many variables and unknowns, but a few things are very clear to me. Firstly, that the need for generic office space will change due to changing attitudes (or constraints) to travel and proximity to others. Secondly, that there are certain areas that will come to the fore, to drive both societal wellbeing and economic activity, and, thirdly, that we are in need of hope.

This is all relevant to the innovation sector and the role of incubators and science parks as enablers of important economic activity to create businesses that create high-value, stable employment and create useful products and services.

It is pleasing to see, therefore, the bringing to market of one of the most exciting, yet still speculative, development opportunities in the sector: The Golden Valley Development, home of Cyber Central UK. I’ll declare my interest here as a consultant to Cheltenham Borough Council, who have provided what I think is highly significant leadership symbol both to the local economy but also on the national stage.

In an increasingly complex, geopolitical world with so many more people across diverse work environments with more data being transferred across public networks, the Cyber sector is clearly the useful domain to focus on. Useful for society as well as for the economy.

We have the opportunity here, given the changing and challenging economic environment, to really build both inclusion and innovation into the DNA of this development. I encourage all stakeholders and leaders of innovation assets to seize this opportunity to play their part in supporting the recovery by understanding the holistic role that they can play in the regional economy, for the long term.'

Read Nick’s full article on innovation assets as leadership symbols on the Medium website.

About the author:

Nick Sturge MBE grew the SETsquared Bristol Centre to global no.1 university-backed business incubator, founded Engine Shed and is now a NED and strategic consultant on ecosystems.