The Coronavirus had successfully scuppered the last two Cyber Security Cluster meetings in both the North and the South but life went on and so much had been happening we thought it was time to get together, albeit virtually, for a catch-up.
Although North & South Wales members gather together over video link every month for the Capture the Flag Cluster meetings, this is not something we had done much of at the main Regional meetings. I fact, the last time the Cluster combined for an All Wales Cluster meeting was back in June 2017 in the glorious sunshine and seaside atmosphere of Aberystwyth.
This time, from the glorious sunshine of our own back gardens and in true "catch-up" style, we had a series of updates from various cyber powerhouses including:-
Faheem Azhar, the Cyber Wales Representative in the United Arab Emirates provided an update on how the relationship between the Cyber Wales Ecosystem and the Emirates has progressed and described the basis of the new Memorandum of Understanding and some of the opportunities for Cluster members in the coming year.
Ben Shaps, the Head of Cyber Growth in the Cyber Security & Digital Identity Directorate at the Department for Digital Culture, Media & Sport summarised all of the great work that has been going on over the last year or so to bring the Government closer to the Cyber Security Clusters in the UK and detailed some new initiatives to help cyber companies to grow.
Andrew Roughan, the MD of Plexal who run the LORCA Accelerator gave an overview of what the next batch of companies in Cohort 5 will be doing as part of the Accelerator programme. This highly successful cyber accelerator funded by DCMS and delivered by Plexal, Deloitte and CSIT has seen 4 previous cohorts of companies crystalise their cyber offerings and make rapid growth gains, including Cyber Wales clusters members so it was great to get a closer look at exactly what companies go through.
Dr Scott Morgan, the Digital Lead at Bridgend College and Project Lead for Cyber College Cymru gave an overview of this brand new partnered initiative that creates pathways into a digital career in cyber. Working closely with Cyber Wales (that means you!), students will meet industry leaders and professionals in cyber (yes, you again!) and tackle challenges you may have. (this initiative was subsequently launched the following Wednesday in a web-session run jointly with the Cyber Wales CTF Cluster meeting)
Nick Lambe, the MD of Gordalex told us about his efforts to lobby UK Government back at the start of the COVID outbreak about the lack of a coherent technology to call for volunteers including location services & security of private data and how this led to a proposal to start a new tech security company, Certifr Ltd, during the COVID lockdown rather than wait until after the crisis.
And, if that wasn't enough, we had updates on how the NHS Wales Call to Action went, how Cyber Wales has been helping the Armed Forces and Welsh Colleges as well as a run through of some of the opportunities on the website.
Well, I did say that we had a lot of catching up to do!