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USW Expert Leading on Cyber Innovation Hub Skills Efforts

The University of South Wales’ Head of Cyber Security, Sharan Johnstone, is taking a lead role in a newly-established Cyber Innovation Hub (CIH).

Unveiled recently by the Cardiff Capital Region (CCR), the CIH is on a mission to transform South Wales into a leading cyber security cluster by 2030.  It aims to do this by creating a world-class pipeline of new cyber security products, high-growth businesses, and technically-skilled talent.

Mrs Johnstone, from Newport, who was named Wales’ STEM Woman of the Year last autumn, is USW’s Head of Subject for Cyber Security and Digital Forensics, and the Director of the Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Education, which as been awarded Gold standard by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC). She also manages the Cyber First and NDEC Outreach teams at USW.

The University of South Wales’ Head of Cyber Security, Sharan Johnstone.

As head of the Talent and Skills team in the CIH on behalf of USW, she is delighted to be leading efforts to build the region’s cyber sector.

“The skills aim of the Cyber Innovation Hub, which is a collaborative project between Cardiff City Region, Cardiff University, the University of South Wales, Tramshed Tech and Alacrity, is to retrain and upskill 1,500 plus people in Wales to help them enter and progress across the diverse and rapidly growing cyber security sector which spans all industry sectors,” she said.

“It’s an honour to be part of the talent and skills team, which is currently surveying employers and employees to elicit their views on current and future skills gap and, where support is needed in training, to ensure Wales remains a competitive force in the sector.”

At the launch of the CIH in Cardiff, politicians, industry leaders, and academics were joined by funders from across the UK.

Speaking at the event, Welsh Government Economy Minister Vaughan Gething said:

“The Welsh Government is proud to co-fund the CIH in its mission to transform Cardiff Capital Region into one of the UK’s leading cyber clusters by 2030.

“The CIH will be a vital pillar in supporting the Welsh economy by creating high-value jobs and a skilled workforce to meet the demands of the cyber security sector.

“The Hub will also help deliver the vision set out in the Welsh Government’s recently launched Cyber Action Plan for Wales by promoting strong partnerships and collaboration so that we can build upon and grow our cyber ecosystem, bringing even further benefits to the economy and achieving a prosperous and resilient future for Wales.”

The Welsh Government is making a £3 million investment in the new Hub over two years, with £3 million of co-funding from CCR and £3.5 million of in-kind match funding from consortium partners.

Kellie Beirne, CEO, CCR, emphasised the importance of the cluster to its locality.

“CIH offers a unique opportunity to bring together four complementary elements – academia, government, businesses and capital – to create a force for new enterprise creation, innovation and skills that gives CCR a competitive advantage against other UK regions.”

Professor Pete Burnap, Director of CIH said:

“Thanks to Welsh Government and CCR support, CIH has the opportunity to really accelerate the growth of the cyber sector in South Wales.  This is a unique opportunity to galvanise the existing expertise and investments in the region by joining the dots to work as an outcome-focused cluster.”

According to a UK Government Cyber Security Sectoral Analysis from 2022, some 46 cyber-related businesses are registered in Wales, employing 4% of all cyber security professionals based in the UK, with an average advertised salary of £49,600. CIH aims also extend to attracting companies not yet anchored in Wales to move here, based on the game-changing talent development activities, which would create more high-value jobs for local people.

The Cyber Innovation Hub is based in sbarc|spark. Home to talented people who create new ventures, sbarc|spark connects entrepreneurs, organisations, and public sector leaders with world-class researchers and professional advisers.


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