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"Unbeatable" Cheltenham will have cyber hub by 2023

Cheltenham will have its centre of excellence for cyber security and innovation in three years, vowed one of the driving forces behind the project.

And Nick Sturge, from Cyber Central, said Cheltenham compared to Silicon Valley.

He was speaking at a virtual conference organised by CyNam (Cyber Cheltenham), a community interest company supporting the growth and development of the area's cyber tech central.

CyNam 20.2 was attended by more than 1,400 online delegates.

Mr Sturge, a council member of the Institute of Directors, is strategic adviser for the planned Cyber Central development and was talking about its impact on the next generation.

And he believes it provides an attractive proposition for firms and employers to use as a base.

He said: "If you reach about an hour and 20 minutes outside Cheltenham, we have 19 universities - that's on par with Silicon Valley.

"The connectivity, £450million and counting of funding and Cheltenham being ranked as one of the best places to live makes this location pretty much unbeatable."

And Mr Sturge, who founded the business hub and co-working space Engine Hub in Bristol, has high ambitions for the town's cyber project.

"We are building Utopia," he said. "We are going to create something really special.

"The whole development has garden community status, we have the responsibility to create something really special.

"It's our responsibility to create the next cyber ecosystems."

He said Cyber Central had the space to cover two million square feet wit housing and social needs included in the development.

"Our aspiration is to deliver an ambitions, globally relevant community, a national centre of excellence," he said.

"We will be open in 2023 - you heard it from me."

He was joined in the talk by Madeline Howard from Cyber First, who outlined ways in which young people are being engaged in and attracted to the cyber industry.

Hosted by CyNam director Chris Dunning-Walton and Cyber Central ecosystem lead Reid Derby, the conference heard from a range of speakers.

Chris Ensor, deputy director of the National Cyber Security Centre, explained that one of the keys to success in growing the cyber industry was bringing like-minded people together.

He said: "How do you engineer people into a place where magic can happen? How do we engineer luck?

"It's bringing together like-minded, clever people into one place and they can start having conversations."

And he believes Cheltenham is uniquely placed to do just that.

"If I look around the country, where are the manufacturing or cyber security skills? We have GCHQ, we have a lot of partner companies around, the accelerator is attracting companies to the area and they are staying.

"I don't see this happening anywhere else. It's not to say that it can't but it comes down to critical mass

"Research into health is largely around Cambridge as they have the university, they have the critical mass."

Keep reading for more on CyNam 20.2 and the Cyber Central development

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