Plans for huge Silicon Valley-style tech hub launched in Cheltenham

The Western Gateway cyber launch event
The Western Gateway cyber launch event -Credit:Western Gateway

A plan to create a massive tech hub in the West Country and South Wales to rival Silicon Valley has been launched in Gloucestershire. Businesses, local authorities and academics from the Western Gateway - a cross-board partnership aimed at boosting the economy across the region - gathered in Cheltenham to discuss building the UK's largest cyber cluster.

The aim of the proposal is to attract top tech businesses to the area, including artificial intelligence, quantum technology and advanced manufacturing firms from around the world. Cheltenham is already home to the government's intelligence agency GCHQ and plans are in place for a £1bn cyber development - known as Golden Valley - in the county, which is expected to create 12,000 jobs when complete.

Viscount Camrose, UK cyber minister, said: “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. The Western Gateway’s work in bringing together local authorities, tech companies and academics to capitalise 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."

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The launch took place at Cheltenham’s new £9.27m Minister Exchange (MX) Innovation Centre - a state-of-the-art workspace for the cyber tech, digital and creative sectors and a Growth Hub to support business development.

Sarah Williams-Gardener, chair of the Western Gateway, said: “A tech supercluster is not defined by one particular physical place working in isolation; it is where great minds collaborate, challenge and convene across business, government and academia."

Those behind the plans are also hoping to attract new investment to South Wales and the West of England.

Dr Jo Jenkinson, director of the GW4 Alliance which brings together the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter, said: “Tackling global challenges through advanced cyber and digital is a core strategic priority of the GW4 Alliance."

She added: “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.”