An impressive start from an inspired Cyber Innovation Hub
2023 has seen the Cyber Innovation Hub (CIH) reach some impressive milestones.
2023 has seen the Cyber Innovation Hub (CIH) reach some impressive milestones – and as we approach the halfway point of 2023, we spoke with Professor Pete Burnap on the impressive progress already being achieved by the hub…
“With some key partnerships and collaborations already put in place, it’s easy to forget that the official launch of the CIH happened less than two months ago” says Professor Pete.
“It’s been an incredible time, not least with the Welsh Government publishing their Cyber Action Plan for Wales – putting the work of the CIH front and centre of that plan, with an emphasis on responding to the priority areas, as well as galvanising and orchestrating the existing pockets of cybersecurity here in Wales. It’s a plan that will fully engage our core focus on achieving the growth and outcomes that create a world-class cyber sovereignty, as well as creating an attractive proposition for businesses and investors across the World.”
“We’re already growing the Welsh cyber ecosystem by solving live challenges”
“The initial funding from Cardiff Capital Region, Welsh Government and CIH partners to set up CIH is clearly reaping dividends. We’re already joining up the dots across Wales – engaging with large companies that need their cyber problems solving and connecting them with ‘challenge responders’: those innovative ‘ideas people’ who can solve these problems, and the entrepreneurs with the know-how to then transform the solutions into viable start-ups with the ability to become commercial successes.
We have seen enough in the past few months to say with confidence that our challenge-based vision to create 25 new cyber start-ups and grow the ecosystem of Welsh-HQ’d cyber companies by 50%, is sound and achievable.
In fact, it’s been an astonishing start for our team, seeing significant cyber stakeholders such as Airbus, CGI, Thales – and public sector bodies such as Digital Health and Care Wales – work with us to shape challenges that can’t be solved by off-the-shelf-solutions.
Those challenges involve helping secure future digital manufacturing plants, protecting energy production systems – and protecting smart homes and their residents against attacks on the digital devices in their home.
So we’re already in the thick of the cyber action, working at the cutting edge and at scale on some critical projects – and looking to bring our capabilities and expertise to enterprises of all sizes and sectors.
“Delivering to Wales – and the World”
At the end of April, I was with Welsh Government colleagues in San Francisco – at the globally-renowned RSA conference – pitching to multi-billion dollar investors and promoting Cyber in Wales to the world, alongside other major European ‘cyber’ nations including Finland, Netherlands, Poland and Spain.
I was fortunate enough to be asked by the European Cyber Security Organisation (ECSO) to host a fireside chat with major figures in global cybersecurity – including Lorena Boix Alonso, Director for Digital Trust & Cybersecurity at the European Commission; Gerhard Eschelbeck, CISO of Kodiak Robotics and Former CISO of Google; and Juliette Wilcox, the UK Cybersecurity Ambassador.
The wide-ranging and very insightful discussion revealed a huge passion and real excitement about the potential markets available to European companies right now – and throughout my time at the conference, there was a massive enthusiasm for CIH’s unique match-making model, with a genuine investor interest in knowing more about our fledgling companies, even at this very early stage.
Universities have often struggled to get innovative tech ideas into commercial ventures – but at the RSA, I could literally see investors’ eyes light up when I pitched them this innovative way to wrap commercial teams around domain experts.
“Strengthening our cyber resilience and protecting our public services”
Closer to home, we’re also developing a range of cyber testbeds that are open to local companies – inviting them to come and build ‘digital twins’, virtual versions of their digital infrastructure, to test their resilience to a range of cyber attacks, in a safe and secure environment.
The CIH suite of services will ultimately support organisations and public services to be more cyber resilient. And we’ll achieve that through our concept of partnerships, working across boundaries throughout Wales.
“Building a pipeline of cyber talent”
One key aim is to train and nurture at least 1500 skilled cyber professionals in the next five years, to work in the many valuable cyber roles emerging across Wales.
We’ll achieve that through a combination of skilling, upskilling and reskilling – and this pipeline is already being developed, through a range of initiatives that include a unique and bespoke upskilling programme of bitesize courses that build hands-on cyber security expertise, in line with industry needs.
Because our skills programmes are developed to meet the talent shortage in a practical and sustainable way, we’re welcoming interest from local employers in all sectors – and we’ll be continuing to develop high-impact short courses tailored to real-world requirements, in everything from an introduction to security in the Cloud, to the security of critical systems and infrastructure: making sure both the learners and their employers get maximum value from each training experience.
That homegrown talent pipeline will be part of our proposition to both local employers – and any enterprise, anywhere in the world, looking to relocate to a place that’s protected and empowered by a best-in-class cyberculture. Something to report back on in our next end-of-term update!”
If you’re an organisation with a challenge for the CiH to transform into a new solution or commercial venture – or are looking to skill up your team to become cyber resilient – drop CiH a line at email@example.com, or visit