Cheltenham - the cyber capital of the UK
The global digital revolution continues to transform how we live, work and play. The UK is at the forefront of this and a global player when it comes to digital and technological investment. Our cyber-tech sector in particular has seen rapid growth and is now valued at £8.3bn, having doubled in the last two years with growth forecast to continue at a similar rate.
Cheltenham and Gloucestershire lie at the heart of a growing digital and cyber-tech region, employing almost 100,000 across an established ecosystem that has a scale and depth unmatched anywhere outside of London.
With the nationally important Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and National Centre of Cyber Security (NCSC) as its core and a growing base of businesses locating within the area, it’s no surprise that Cheltenham and Gloucestershire have established themselves as the natural home for cyber related activity in the UK.
The emerging £400 million Golden Valley Development – home of Cyber Central UK will only strengthen this position – and further Cheltenham’s ambition of being the cyber capital of the UK.
Unprecedented depth & scale
"Cheltenham has a long established, thriving high-tech ecosystem with the world’s leading names such as Microsoft, Apple and IBM rubbing shoulders with innovators, start-ups and the UK’s brightest academic minds."
STEVE JORDAN – LEADER
CHELTENHAM BOROUGH COUNCIL
The depth and scale of the digital and cyber-tech ecosystems in the region is unmatched anywhere in the UK.
Cheltenham and Gloucestershire sit at the heart of this wider cyber and digital region – one of the UK’s most important tech centres and digitalised economies, stretching from Oxford, Bath and Bristol to Cardiff and Birmingham. In Cheltenham, which sits at the heart of the region, there are an estimated 590 digital tech businesses employing over 3,100 people across the borough. For Gloucestershire as a whole, this increases to 2,300 businesses employing almost 11,000 people.
Within the cyber sector itself, the county is home to more than 120 cyber businesses, with almost half of these in Cheltenham, making the density of cyber related businesses 11 times the UK average.
Academically, there is also a significant density of education institutions with impressive cyber and technological capabilities (five of GCHQ’s Academic Centres of Excellence and two of the world’s top six university-backed business incubators are within 55 miles of Cheltenham). Not only does this provide a rich talent pool across the region but also a base for world-leading research and innovation.
GOLDEN VALLEY DEVELOPMENT – HOME OF CYBER CENTRAL UK
The vision for the Golden Valley is to create a mixed use development integrating the Cyber Central campus as part of an innovative garden community comprising of 2 million sq ft of commercial accommodation and over 3,000 new homes that challenges the existing norms relating to design and sustainability.
This first phase brings 45 hectares of council owned land along with a further commitment of up to £180M of investment into housing as we spearhead our economic recovery.
The UK Government is investing £1.9bn in the cyber sector and the Golden Valley Development is key part of this. The development site will supercharge the sector growth, bringing innovators, businesses and academia together into the new UK sector capital – Cyber Central.
Cheltenham and the wider region benefit from a range of networks and partnerships that support sustained cyber growth and contribute to a genuine sense of a cyber community. This is also reflected in the town’s reputation as a natural home for cyber professionals and the growing base of assets that are sparking a greater willingness to collaborate openly and coalesce behind common cyber challenges and areas of commercial opportunity.
This includes Cynam, which since its inception in 2015, has rapidly grown to a membership of over 900 members, whilst also running a regular events programme. Cynam’s influence extends beyond Cheltenham and Gloucestershire but retains a focus on supporting local SMEs and start-ups and being the centrepiece to the cyber ecosystem.
Hub8 in the town centre is also at the heart of Cheltenham’s start-up offer, providing a purpose-built workspace dedicated to enabling the growth of cyber-tech businesses. The nearby Minster Innovation Exchange is also set to provide a unique, flexible innovation and collaboration space for start-ups and SMEs in the creative, digital and cyber-tech sectors.
Case Study in focus: trust stamp
TrustStamp is a US and UK tech start-up working on biometric authentication. They are located in Cheltenham and have an active presence in the Hub8 incubator.
In 2019 they joined the GCHQ/NCSC Accelerator Programme as part of the second cohort of start-ups. Their participation provided lots of opportunities for the company and has acted as a platform for their growth. This included access to invaluable cyber security mentoring from NCSC, and attending a hosted trip to Silicon Valley to meet with RSA Security. Here, the company had coaching with Lean-Startup pioneer, Steve Blank.
The resulting growth in the company has been rapid and significant, with the business able to leverage the rich base of cyber security people and services in Gloucestershire. As a result, the business has decided to base a significant proportion of their tech team in Cheltenham (upwards of 15 people).
The company expect to recruit locally, tapping into the supply of cyber and tech specialists. They also intend to make a long-term commitment to partnering within the ecosystem and be a valuable contributor to Gloucestershire and Cheltenham’s burgeoning cyber reputation.
(Case Study taken from Hatch Regeneris Cyber Impact Study)
CASE STUDY IN FOCUS: SUREVINE
Surevine builds secure, scalable collaboration solutions for the most security conscious organisations. In doing so, they facilitate the joining of people, enabling collaboration on and around highly sensitive information.
Surevine was a spin out from GCHQ in circa 2008. The company was started by two engineers who were on contract work in the department and subsequently pursed a commercial opportunity. The company has grown significantly and are now a business of 30 staff with an annual turnover of £4m.
Their Threatvine product is the centrepiece to their IP and is a next generation cyber-security information sharing platform designed for secure cross-organisational collaboration and analysis. It also powers the UK’s national cyber security sharing platform.
Surevine’s engineer’s work remotely across the UK with a particular concentration in the South West, have ‘hubs’ in London and have recently moved their South West hub to Hub8 in Cheltenham. This is part of a strategic move to be part of the Cyber Central ecosystem and benefit from the base of expertise and assets.
(Case Study taken from Hatch Regeneris Cyber Impact Study)