L-r: Andy Beaden, chairman and co-founder of IN4 Group; Mo Isap, founder and CEO of IN4 Group; Debbie Brown, Strategic Director of Service Reform at Salford City Council; and Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett: Pic copyright Phil Tragen 2021

A new transformational initiative is set to make Salford one of the most cyber enabled places in the UK. The unique innovation blueprint which has been developed by IN4 Group, operator of HOST, will connect cyber innovation, cyber skills, cyber careers and cyber start-ups – delivering the most comprehensive and inclusive place-based adoption of innovation. 

The ambition for Cyber Salford, launched at HOST, the Home of Skills & Technology, in collaboration with Salford City Council, Cyber Resilience Centre and partners Raytheon Technologies, is to connect everyone from the Salford community, including local citizens, young people, start-ups, SME businesses and the self-employed, with access to education, training, tools and incubators to boost cyber security awareness, innovation, and careers in the region.

Greater Manchester has signalled its ambition to be the UK’s security capital and a global leader in the cyber sector, supported by GCHQ and the National Cyber Security Centre’s (NCSC) moves to the region. The Cyber Salford initiative will be made available to all 10 Greater Manchester local authority areas, illustrating how ambition can be executed into tangible economic impacts and social value outcomes. 

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The last 12 months alone has accelerated digital transformation at a scale never seen before, but this has also brought about a dramatic increase in cybercrime, which rose by 31 per cent during the pandemic and cost UK businesses more than £6.2 million. 

Furthermore, Covid has catapulted all businesses into tech and digital businesses. Cyber is an enabler to digitalisation and innovation – however, a lack of skills and support is a barrier to adoption and business growth – something Cyber Salford will directly address as part of the Covid recovery for business. 

HOST has already established one of Greater Manchester’s most innovative Security Operation Centres (HOST Cyber), working with partners Microsoft and Siemens, with links to HOST’s Data Science Innovation Programme and GCHQ’s Co-Lab, which it designs and delivers. Cyber career starts are being achieved through its bootcamps at Skills City with partner Raytheon. 

By April 2022, Cyber Salford aims to support a minimum of 100 Salford SMEs, 200 Salford self-employed freelancers, educate over 200 Salford citizens, inspire 500 Salford school students, create 50 new cyber jobs and incubate 10 Salford start-ups. There is a further incentive of cash grants administered by Salford City Council, with 100 Salford SMEs set to receive £2500 and 200 Salford freelancers given £1000 each towards increasing their security upon completion of the training programmes.

The training programmes delivered through HOST Cyber will include cyber awareness training for parents and local citizens, which will offer device and online safety advice along with careers education. 

In line with HOST’s commitment to breaking the barriers currently impacting diversity and inclusion, it will also be working with all Salford schools and colleges to inspire young people aged 11-18 years. It will run the National Cyber Security’s CyberFirst Programme each Saturday, particularly for girls, sparking their interest in STEM and technology careers. 

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While the Cyber Bootcamp at Skills City, in partnership with Raytheon Technologies, is a 12-week training programme for adult learners to qualify in cyber security, experience real-life projects with an employer and fast-track into a digital technology career. Presently, 90 learners are being trained and funded by the Department for Education. 

Additionally, HOST’s Data Science Innovation Programme works with project teams, SMEs, entrepreneurs and start-ups to provide the support they need to bring their cyber innovations into the real world, commercialise their products and tools, and accelerate their growth as a viable business. 

Mo Isap, CEO of IN4 Group, operator of HOST, said: “While cyber security risks and many recent high-profile cyber attacks are requiring individuals and organisations to rethink their approaches to security and their digital infrastructure, skills gaps and a lack of support continues to affect a large proportion of people. 

“This unique and scalable blueprint we’ve created for Salford, driven by skills, innovation and start-ups, is making cyber technology comprehensively accessible across an entire community level. We are excited to provide Salford with the ability to offer all residents, businesses and organisations the ability to be cyber security enabled, educated and prepared, establishing Salford as the most cyber enabled place in the UK.” 

Salford’s City Mayor, Paul Dennett, said: “It takes years to build a reputation and a few minutes of cyber-incident to ruin it – the knock-on effect of a data breach can be devastating for an organisation, Cyber Salford will bring the best in class of public and private sector knowledge to help businesses, residents, sole traders and learners from across the City of Salford to become more aware and secure, this will mean more trust and confidence in an increasingly digital world.”