The UK Cyber Cluster Collaboration (UKC3) have officially recognised the county of Surrey as a cluster within the cyber security sector, following their application in May 2022. This accolade supports the growing success and prestige of the sector across the region and will help to put Surrey on the map as a key player within the cyber security space.
Surrey County Council’s Economy and Growth team worked closely with business leaders, Royal Holloway University London and University of Surrey to develop Surrey’s cyber security cluster offer. This work saw the group conducting a review of Surrey’s contribution to the cyber security sector, as well as the growth and potential for the future. Rob May, a director of the Cyber Cluster company & Managing Director of Ramsac had this to say about the working group:
“I’ve been greatly encouraged by the support and enthusiasm of everyone involved in the Surrey Cyber Working Group. It has been good to see representation from many key organisations in the regions cyber business community, along with academic involvement from Royal Holloway London and the University of Surrey. Collaboration with ‘Invest in Surrey’, the region’s inward investment service, and the Department for International Trade will help to promote Surrey’s cyber security offering internationally.
Unfortunately, cyber security and cyber resilience will never be a destination, this is very much an ongoing journey and collaboration is vital. To ensure our newly established cluster successfully delivers on its strategic priorities, partnership working across the local cyber community and externally with business, government, academia and other clusters will be key to achieving its goals.”
In order to qualify for UKC3 cluster recognition, Surrey needed to demonstrate its commitment to supporting cyber sector growth in the region; capacity to deliver tangible impacts related to innovation, growth and skills; robust governance structures; and proof that its operations will be in line with UKC3’s Operating Framework.
Playing a vital role in supporting growth of the cyber sector throughout the UK, clusters are uniquely positioned with regional focus and highly engaged communities of cyber security businesses. As well as hosting large cyber companies such as BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, Cap Gemini, F5, CGI, Cisco and VMW, Surrey has a strong small and medium cyber business community and the region boasts two of the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre’s Gold Standard Universities – Royal Holloway University of London and University of Surrey. Ioana Boureanu, Deputy Director of the Surrey Centre for Cyber Security, and the University of Surrey’s Cluster Advisor Board member, comments:
“At the University of Surrey, we have a longstanding relationship with the cyber security sector, in our research as well via degree programmes with industrial placements. This cluster gives us new opportunities to better train the next generation of cyber security professionals by being in closer tandem with local industry, as well as working together to shape the cyber security views and vision in the local area, at a prime time for the sector.”
Royal Holloway’s world class research in cyber security has been recognised by GCHQ and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), one of only three universities in the UK to achieve such status. Royal Holloway is also one of the founder institutions of the International Cyber Security Centre of Excellence. The University of Surrey also has Academic Centres of Excellence in Cyber Security Research (one of only 19 in the UK). Chris Mitchell from Royal Holloway University said:
“Cyber security is a topic whose importance cannot be underestimated. The pervasiveness of information technology means that cyber security issues affect all the Internet-connected systems and devices that we use. This includes vehicles for private and public transport, the infrastructure delivering power and water into our homes, and almost every aspect of our working lives, including the operation of factories, transport and offices worldwide.
We depend on information and communications technologies in almost every aspect of our lives, so cyber security has become a fundamental necessity for us all. Collaboration between the commercial and academic worlds is essential to both give motivation for new research and enable the latest innovations to be exploited. The Surrey Cyber Security Cluster will play a key role in this by bringing together key players across industry, commerce and academia to help develop new cyber technologies and promote their adoption and use.”
Developing this cyber security cluster represents an important outcome of one the four priorities of Surrey’s ‘Plan for Growth’ to ‘grow the leading edge’. Grant Bourhill, CEO of Surrey Research Park comments:
“Surrey Research Park is home to over 200 companies employing approximately 4500 staff. While the Park is technologically agnostic, we host a growing number of businesses specialising in digital and cyber security, areas which underpin so many other sectors including health, space, IoT and Finance. Our businesses are taking advantage of the nearby expertise at the University of Surrey and neighbouring facilities including the Surrey Centre for Cyber Security.”
Working in a collaborative way with other clusters to create a national network of knowledge sharing will help to ensure that organisations across the country have the best possible protection from cyber-attack, something that experts like Steve Coburn of Project Five, and director of the Surrey Cyber Cluster company are highly aware of:
“Cyber Crime has long been the number one criminal activity and, as we went through the COVID-19 pandemic, there was no furlough scheme for criminals, so they had to step up their online activity to maintain their income. At the same time, we all stayed at home, bought online and, as a consequence, were exposed to increasingly-clever scams from these cyber-criminals. So, for Surrey’s cyber-security players to come together and form the Cyber Security Cluster at this time, is an extremely important initiative to promote the industry, and help all businesses and individuals understand the very real threats that we face today.”
The Invest in Surrey team (part of Surrey County Council), are thrilled to be supporting the Surrey cyber security cluster, along with businesses of all shapes and sizes from across the region, to positively impact and shape the future of business in Surrey. Tim Oliver, the leader of the council said:
“Surrey County Council is incredibly proud that our region has been recognised by the UKC3 as an official Cyber Security Cluster.
This initiative is a perfect example of how collaboration can impact not only individual organisations, but a whole business sector and has launched what we’re hoping will be a strong and productive partnership between cyber specialists from the region’s private, public and university sectors.
Surrey County Council and Invest in Surrey have been integral to the facilitation and development of these partnerships, as well as putting together the formal application for UKC3. We will continue to offer support to those within the cluster, as it seeks to develop the key skills, business support and infrastructure requirements to support and grow our existing and new businesses within this critically important sector.
I very much look forward to seeing the impact that the cluster (and its new accolade) will have on the cyber security sector in Surrey and across the UK.”
We believe that cyber security is at the forefront of Surrey’s potential for growth, in both the sector and of Surrey’s wider business base and we’re excited to see how this formal recognition by UKC3 will help to support this.