French defence giant Thales has joined forces with the Welsh government to set up a £20m cyber security centre in the heart of one of Wales’s most deprived regions.
The project, dubbed the National Digital Exploitation Centre, forms a key part of the government’s programme to kickstart investment in the South Wales valleys.
The centre, based in Blaenau Gwent, will enable small businesses to experiment with new digital concepts and offer a lab for corporates to develop new technology.
Researchers and startups will be encouraged to formulate new IP that they can then auction off to manufacturers around the world, some of whom it is hoped will be encouraged to establish a base in the region.
Thales and the Welsh government have both pledged £10m towards the programme, although the latter’s donation will be made in the form of support. The project will be delivered in partnership with the University of South Wales.
Commenting on the news, economy minister Ken Skates said in a statement: “I am confident that through our partnership with Thales and the University of South Wales we will work to stimulate and create employment in high value technology businesses – an ambition that is right at the heart of our Tech Valleys project.”
Gareth Williams, vice president of secure communications and information systems at Thales, added: “This will act as a cornerstone of our cyber security capabilities in the UK, providing a test bed for our technology, whilst also providing a catalyst for regeneration in the region.
“This highly technical and accessible facility will be a centre of cyber and digital development and education, and a connection for South Wales to major technology centres across the United Kingdom.”
The centre is expected to launch properly in 2021, although 11 staff will begin working there next month.