A £6 million cyber security scheme that will protect Greater Manchester’s small and medium-sized companies against malicious computer attacks is being launched.
Cyber attacks pose a £860m risk to the region’s businesses each year, as estimated by the Lloyds City Risk Register, and with Greater Manchester’s digital aspirations continuing to grow, cyber reliance becomes ever more important. Last year’s WannaCry ransomware virus demonstrated the potentially catastrophic impact caused when cyber defences are breached.
To combat these threats, universities in the region, led by Manchester Metropolitan University, with the universities of Lancaster, Manchester and Salford, will join forces in an initiative known as the GM Cyber Foundry, which will apply research in cyber security to create new products and services for SMEs.
It is vitally important for the region to protect its vibrant digital and creative sector, which generates more than £3bn in economic output each year, and to ensure that it can operate securely. Manchester is growing as a centre for digital excellence, as seen with the opening of a Government Communications Agency site (GCHQ) in the city next year.
The GM Cyber Foundry has now been approved by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, which allocated £3m of European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) funding to the scheme.
Manchester Metropolitan Vice-Chancellor Professor Malcolm Press said: “The GM Cyber Foundry will play a key role in protecting the region’s businesses, and preparing them for future digital challenges. Universities have an important part to play in ensuring SMEs can thrive by transferring cutting-edge technology, research and bespoke products directly to those who need it. Our strong relationships with business in the city-region, partnered with quality research in this area, ensure that Manchester Metropolitan is ideally placed to lead on this important initiative.”
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “Through the work of the Cyber Foundry, our world-leading universities are giving start-ups and SMEs the freedom they need to create and innovate, but within digital environments that are safe and secure from cyber criminals.
“With over £25m being invested in fibre broadband connectivity, a planned £5m Cyber Innovation Centre, and the new GCHQ site, Greater Manchester is both a major hub for digital development and research, and a trusted place to do business.
“Greater Manchester is a rapidly expanding software and technology hotbed, and we’re perfectly positioned to become one of the top-five digital city-regions in Europe.”