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Greater Manchester; from 'Cottonopolis' to 'Cyberopolis'

Thursday 16 May 2019

UNIVERSITY researchers are teaming up to tackle cyber-crime and make Greater Manchester the new 'Cyber-opolis'.

Computer scientists from Salford, Manchester, Lancaster and Manchester Met will work together in the GM Cyber Foundry, a £6m backed scheme to aid small and medium businesses from crippling online crime.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham officially launched the scheme on Thursday, May 16 where city leaders forecast the project and other digital initiatives - including the arrival of GCHQ - promised to make the city/region a Top 5 European digital city.

Lord Peter Mandelson likened the digital revolution-in-waiting to the original industrial revolution when Manchester became known as 'Cottonopolis' for its dominance of the textile trade.

He said: "We could talk of a new 'Cyber-opolis' where Greater Manchester is the place to do digital business not just in the UK but globally."

Cost of attacks  

He also confirmed a survey that just 16% of GM businesses had a a crisis management plan in the event of cyber-attack and cited data that 2/3 of start-ups and SMEs actually fold after a substantive hack.

The GM Cyber Foundry is targeting 600 business for support over three years, with 50 businesses getting additional software engineering support to innovate and grow.

Two of the businesses already involved Quantum Base and The Blair Project appeared to explain the benefits to SMEs and Start-Ups.

Mr Burnham said: "Through the work of the GM Cyber Foundry, our world-leading universities are giving start-ups and SMEs the capacity they need to create and innovate without the fear they are at risk of theft or disruption.  

With more than £25m being invested in fibre broadband, 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."  

A range of projects include tightening security in Blockchain and Internet of Things applications, increasing encryption efficiency and improving the design and training in security systems.  

Pool of expertise

Dr Rob Aspin, director of computer science and software engineering at the University of Salford said: "We are thrilled to get going on this landmark project which builds our reputation for working directly with industry and business on real-world problems.  

"The collaboration between the four universities crucially provides a pool of expertise to build better protection for our business industries and services."  

The Salford team includes security and intelligence experts and business academics as well as computer scientists.

If your business needs to contact the GM Cyber Foundry, please contact Rachel Martin, Enterprise, University of Salford

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Gareth Hollyman, Senior Press & PR Officer (Science)

0161 295 6895