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University of Gloucestershire forms groundbreaking £3.6m post-Brexit partnership

The University of Gloucestershire is joining forces with The Fachhochschule des Mittelstands (FHM) University to establish an institute for cyber security and digital innovation in Germany.

In one of the first post-Brexit European university partnerships, funding of 4.23 million euros (£3.62m) over five years has been secured from the Düren district in Germany for the University of Gloucestershire and the University of Applied Sciences for Medium-Sized Enterprises (FHM) to establish the new facility. The district sees this partnership as crucial to its economic regeneration plans, supporting business growth in high-innovation, high-skill sectors.

The new institute will offer training in the area of data protection and cyber security for businesses in the Rhineland region, tailored to their specific needs, promoting cyber security and digital innovation in small and medium-sized businesses. It will also increase the education opportunities available to local people, equipping them to thrive in a digital world and providing more skilled workers to help address the cyber skills gap.

The first activities are planned to launch in the autumn and will lay the platform for the future development of a centre of excellence in applied cyber and digital sciences in Düren. This campus will offer degree programmes at a range of levels, geared towards preparing students to meet the emerging opportunities and challenges of an increasingly digital economy, including cyber and computer security and digital business management.

Stephen Marston, vice-chancellor of the University of Gloucestershire, said: "We are delighted to be working in partnership with FHM University to establish this groundbreaking project in Düren. The project will deliver first class digital education and research and support businesses to address a key skills shortage, in an area of Germany which has exceptional potential for sustainable growth.

"We have a long-standing partnership with FHM University, reflecting our shared commitment to supporting student employability and business success. This investment by the Düren district presents a great opportunity to work together, building on our track record and expertise as a university in delivering high quality cyber/ digital programmes, in supporting business innovation through our award-winning Growth Hub, and in working with civic partners to support economic regeneration."

Professor Dr Volker Wittberg, vice rector for research and development at the FHM University and head of the new institute, said: "The Düren district is ideally suited for our project. As part of a three-dimensional approach, we will particularly pursue the business areas of education, research and business support."

Key to the partnership over the longer term will be research and knowledge transfer. The new institute aims to collaborate on cyber projects with other national and international universities and the public and private sector. It will become a test centre and demonstration zone for cyber technologies.

Professor Kamal Bechkoum, head of the School of Computing and Engineering at the University of Gloucestershire, said: "The development and building of competencies in cyber represents one of the biggest challenges for businesses globally, with the risk of cyber attacks growing exponentially.

"Our experience and sector-leading partnerships in the fast-paced world of cyber make us perfectly placed to partner with FHM in delivering this project, which will tackle the cyber skills shortage and facilitate digital innovation in both the UK and Germany."

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