£20m cyber security facility to be created in Blaenau Gwent as part of valleys 'tech powerhouse' project

A NEW state-of-the-art research and development facility is to be created in Blaenau Gwent as part of a plan to turn the south Wales Valleys into a technology powerhouse.

Ken Skates AM ..Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport

Picture: Ken Skates AM ..Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport

Source: Originally reported by South Wales Argus.

The Welsh Government has announced a new £20 million partnership with global technology company Thales to develop a new 'cyber centre' in Blaenau Gwent.

This is part of the 10-year Tech Valleys scheme, which is intended to turn Blaenau Gwent into a global centre for new technology, and create more than 1,500 jobs in the area.

The new partnership, which will see £10 million each invested by the Welsh Government and Thales, will involve the creation of a new research and development facility for small companies to use to test ideas. The facility, dubbed the National Digital Exploitation Centre, or NDEC, will also provide a new research lab available to large multi-national companies, and will be developed in collaboration with University of South Wales (USW), which will run an Advanced Cyber Institute at the centre.

Announcing the new partnership, economy minister Ken Skates said: “The centre will help ensure that Wales exploits the global opportunities of digital transformation, provide a base for ground breaking research and will equip businesses of all shapes and sizes with the skills and knowledge they need to win a greater share of large regional and national projects.

“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.”

Vice president for secure communications and information systems with Thales Gareth Williams also hailed the announcement.

"This will act as a cornerstone of our cyber security capabilities in the UK, providing a test bed for our technology, whilst also providing a catalyst for regeneration in the region," he said.

“This highly technical and accessible 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.”

And USW vice-chancellor of Professor Julie Lydon said: “USW is already a recognised expert in cyber security, with our Newport-based National Cyber Security Academy 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 (small and medium-sized enterprises).

“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.”

Building work is due to get underway later this year, with the new facility to be up and running in 2021.