I’m delighted that the vision for Cheltenham as a cyber centre, first set out in 2014, has received another boost with the Government’s announcement of over £4m in funding for the town. The money comes from the Getting Building Fund, a £900m fund announced by the Prime Minister in June as part of the New Deal for Britain.
More than 300 projects nationwide, which have been determined as ‘shovel-ready’, have been allocated a share of the fund. In total, the investment is expected to deliver up to 45,000 homes, create up to 85,000 jobs and reduce around 65 million kilograms of carbon dioxide across the country.
Here in Cheltenham, over £3m is being invested in the ‘Minster Innovation Exchange’, a low carbon modular construction which will deliver innovative co-working space in the town centre. It will provide a purpose-built performance, event and community venue, and connect to the high street through upgraded historic linkages from the Minster grounds. It will also act as a pilot for developments at the Cyber Park.
Nearly £1m will also be spent developing more of our highly successful Cyber Incubation Units, creating a range of new office space, shared and dedicated laboratories, workshops and co-working facilities for high-tech, cyber-based entrepreneurs and innovators.
Innovating in cyber-security technology will underpin our town’s future prosperity and provide much needed jobs and investment as we move through the coronavirus crisis.
It is just the beginning of a larger vision, including a cyber park directly adjacent to GCHQ, which is expected to transform the local economy, and which has been backed by over £20m in Government funding to improve the nearby road network.
I am grateful to the locally based Workshop Group, who run the Hub8 cyber innovation space in the Brewery for their work on this, and also the council who helped with the bid.
The UK's cyber security industry is now worth an estimated £8.3 billion, with total revenues in the sector up 46 per cent from £5.7 billion in 2017.
With Government support, Cheltenham is forging a bright future in this growing sector.