'UK’s answer to Silicon Valley' planned for West of England and Wales

UK map concept art showing digitized UK landmass outline in blue.
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Plans have been announced for a new tech hub in Western England and South Wales that's being touted as a leading destination for AI, quantum technology, and advanced manufacturing.

With the ambitious claim that the Cyber Technology Supercluster could rival the US' Silicon Valley, organizers Western Gateway say they want to attract top tech businesses to the area.

"With technology developing faster than ever it is vital we make the most of the UK’s growing cyber and digital expertise – to keep us safe and reap the benefits of innovation like ground-breaking healthcare research and growing our economy," said Viscount Camrose, UK Minister for cyber.

"The Western Gateway’s work in bringing together local authorities, tech companies and academics to capitalize on the thriving industries in south Wales and the west of England will create more highly paid jobs and further strengthen the UKs position as a cyber power."

The launch took place at Cheltenham’s soon-to-be opened £9.27 million Minister Exchange (MX) Innovation Centre, designed as a workspace for the cyber, digital, and creative sectors, and a growth hub to support business development.

The tech supercluster will work across Bristol, Cardiff, and Cheltenham, with 12 universities involved and with support from companies including Tech Spark, Engine Shed, Tramshed Tech, Alacrity and others.

"Through our innovative collaborative research across Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter universities and UKRI centers for doctoral training we bring together expertise spanning disciplines from human behavior to hardware, providing technical solutions and tackling socio-technical challenges," said Dr Jo Jenkinson, director of the GW4 Alliance which brings together the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter.

"Across the Alliance, we have already seen technological success and scientific breakthroughs with the GW4 supercomputer Isambard and, later this year, Isambard-AI will be established as a new national Artificial Intelligence Research Resource. We look forward to working with the Western Gateway and partners to play a key role in advancing cyber and digital transformation."

Cheltenham, home to the government's intelligence agency GCHQ, is also the location of a new £1 billion development that will include one of Europe's largest tech campuses. Golden Valley will house the National Cyber Innovation Centre and is expected to create 12,000 new jobs.

In Cheltenham alone, there are an estimated 590 technology firms employing over 3,100 people, with Gloucestershire as a whole housing 2,300 businesses, including 120 cyber security firms.


Meanwhile, Anthony Hunt, leader of Torfaen County Borough Council and Chair of CCR Committee, said South Wales has “great strengths in cyber and digital innovation”.

Wales is home to the regenerative National Data Exploitation Centre (NDEC) and the Cyber Innovation Hub, he added, which are a “unique collaboration between academia, the public and private sectors to create new cyber companies and increase the pipeline of talent".

Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance journalist writing for publications including the BBC, Private Eye, Forbes, Raconteur and specialist technology titles.