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Reporting from Manchester’s growing cyber cluster //30.03.21

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority reports on how the city’s cyber cluster is growing and connecting with both London and Cheltenham…

The cyber ecosystem in Greater Manchester is at the heart of a thriving £5bn regional digital economy and is one of the UK’s fastest growing cyber clusters. The region is home to world-class cyber expertise, diverse digital talent and research excellence, with a vibrant ecosystem consisting of national security organisations, global industrial leaders, five of the UK’s top universities, SMEs, local government and innovators with strengths in emerging technologies such as AI and machine learning.

GCHQ has played a key role in bringing this digital security ecosystem together, having received a universal welcome into the city region and designating Manchester as one of its three strategic hubs – together with Cheltenham and London. The initial attractions of a diverse, skilled and motivated workforce, global connectivity, academic strengths and cost effectiveness are combined with the innate desire to collaborate. As a result, the ecosystem acts as a force multiplier for GCHQ, enabling it to leverage the city region’s strengths in pursuit of enhanced national security.

Greater Manchester is one of the UK’s prime economic engines and collaboration between all the clusters will drive further innovation, draw on more diverse expertise and is central to the national interest. This extends internationally to our partner nations: in March 2021, Greater Manchester and North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany) hosted an open online cyber cluster development forum led by the senior leaders, academics and industrial leaders in each area. This new bilateral relationship between both regions is one example of how we can generate important new business, have an international impact and uncover opportunities between both regions to promote growth.

The announcement that the government’s National Cyber Force is to be permanently based in northern England creates opportunities to level-up. It will create opportunities for people wherever they live and strengthen our national resilience by diversifying the geography of our activities.

In early 2020, an AI study found Greater Manchester to be the UK’s Top Digital Tech City based on the volume of digital business activity and affordability. The study found that Greater Manchester performs ahead of all other major UK cities in fields including AI and data, cybersecurity, the Internet of Things, service design and medtech

Innovative initiatives and partnerships include:

  • Greater Manchester Cyber Resilience Centre, which recently announced a strategic partnership with the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce to encourage organisations in the region to futureproof their business security
  • The Greater Manchester Cyber Foundry and AI Foundry, a collaboration between four universities to grow and strengthen business capabilities
  • Manchester’s Digital Security Innovation Hub
  • Increasing partnership between academia and GCHQ in a variety of ways to strengthen research and innovation
  • Greater Manchester Cyber Advisory Group: a 70-member strong group providing strategic oversight and a force for inclusive economic growth, taking an ecosystem approach to building that capability and economic resilience

Experience tells us that great success comes when we work together. Collaboration is key and cyber is threaded throughout many strategies for the region, including Greater Manchester’s Digital Blueprint, the Greater Manchester Strategy, and the Innovation Greater Manchester Blueprint, which will turbocharge our cyber ecosystem, boost research and development investment and help with levelling up the North.

Greater Manchester recognises the importance of the continued expansion of the digital, creative and tech sectors and the opportunities this brings for people across the region. In particular, there are a number of exciting opportunities for SMEs and startups to engage with Greater Manchester:

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Find out more about Greater Manchester’s cyber ecosystem, read the Greater Manchester Strategy and check out  Innovation Greater Manchester Blueprint.