Cyber and Tech
All nodes lead to Cheltenham: New cyber business park will create 11,500 jobs and £835m annually
Cyber Central UK business park would create 11,500 jobs, contribute and extra £835m GVA annually to the economy and add £15 million more to business rates in Gloucestershire.
These are just some of the dramatic findings laid out in a report looking at the potential impact of the much-championed local authority-led development planned for 200 acres of land to the West of GCHQ in Cheltenham.
Nearly 11,000 new residents would be also be accommodated on the new development (generating an extra £8m in council tax revenues), with a spending capacity exceeding £110 million annually which would support more than 1,300 jobs.
“Cyber central UKhas the potential to secure Gloucestershire's cyber future as well as generate significant economic and social value in its own right, as a landmark development which is defined by its scale, quality, location and the backing of industry and government,” said the Gloucestershire Cyber and Digital Impact Study, by Hatch Regeneris.
Already, it notes, the sector is of significant economic importance to the county with firms including Raytheon,Ciscco, TrustStamp, Surevineworking away within our borders – which the report says results in a £185 million impact on the economy.
Cheltenhamis the hub of all cyber activity in the county and already has 590 digital tech businesses employing more than 3,140 staff.
Gloucestershire’s digital economy has more than 2,300 businesses employing more than 11,000 people and there has been a 34 per cent growth in digital tech jobs over the last five years.
But the report warns it is not as simple as proceeding with the plan to build what has become known as the Golden Valley Development.
"The prospects for continued and accelerated cyber and tech-led growth across Cheltenham and Gloucestershire are promising and are driven by a series of key factors, but there are risks too, which need to be acknowledged and mitigated,” said the report, which was carried out Cheltenham Borough Council, the local authority driving the initiative.
On the plus side, Hatch Regeneris noted, investments are being made, Government baking was strong, local forecasts good, but a responsewas needed to “address ecosystem deficiencies” and guard against “Brexit outcomes retain a lack of uncertainty” and therecould be a “loss of confidence if cyber progress is slow”.
The image used to promote the forthcoming GFIrst LEP Local Industrial Strategy - now seen as a key document in the county's economic recovery and cyber future. No pressure then!
But it makes no bones about Cheltenham and Gloucestershire’s current status in what is a fast-growing world-wide sector.
Gloucestershire has a density of cyber tech firms six times more concentrated than the rest of the UK. In Cheltenham alone it is 11 times the UK average.
“Not only is Cheltenham have a prominent cluster, but Gloucester and Tewkesbury are key cyber centres too.”
“The UK is a global cyber powerhouse, with Gloucestershire and Cheltenham at the core of these capabilities,” said the report, acknowledging the “magnetic effect” of GCHQ and the NCSC (National Cyber Security Centre).
GFirst LEP, the local enterprise partnership, gets a nod as well. Its local industrial strategy among the future road maps which the Regeneris report suggests will help the county fully realise its potential in the cyber economy.