Lancashire announces new strategic partnership to maximise County’s ‘once in a generation’ cyber opportunity

National Cyber Force, local authorities, industry, and academia, join forces to create the Lancashire Cyber Partnership

Lancashire has announced the formation of a new collaborative initiative, The Lancashire Cyber Partnership (LCP) which will shape, support and promote the County’s world-class cyber strengths and fast-growing cyber ecosystem.

The Partnership’s members: Lancashire County Council (LCC); the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP); the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan); Lancaster University; BAE Systems; and the National Cyber Force (NCF); will also maximise the County’s once in a generation cyber opportunity, and all the benefits a thriving cyber economy will bring to Lancashire.

The LCP was officially launched at the County’s first ever Lancashire Cyber Festival this week. Hosted at the University of Central Lancashire, the event brought together a wide range of participants, including businesses owners, local authority leaders, academics, and representatives from national government. Over two days, delegates took part in discussions and workshops which explored how Lancashire’s ambition to create a high-value, high-skilled, and inclusive cyber economy, could be realised.

In addition, pupils from Lancashire primary schools took part in specially designed activities, including trying to solve cyber-themed puzzles based on famous fairy tales. Students from local colleges, and Lancaster University and UCLan, were also involved, taking part in a high-tech cyber escape room challenge held in a specially converted shipping container on UCLan’s University Square.

By bringing together both public and private sector partners together, the Lancashire Cyber Partnership’s members have developed a shared vision of Lancashire as a world-leading destination for cyber businesses, investors, careers, training, academia, and innovation.

To help achieve that vision, the LCP will work collaboratively to implement initiatives and strategies which will facilitate and boost cyber-led economic growth across the County’s digital industries, technology supply chains, and broader disciplines.

The LCP’s mission is also to ensure that all of Lancashire enjoys the positive social, cultural and educational benefits set to be generated by a rapid increase in cyber-related jobs, and significant inward investment, over the coming years.

In addition, the LCP will enhance and support the North West Cyber Corridor: a growing cluster of cyber businesses; specialist centres of excellence; governmental agencies; digital innovation hubs; hi-tech co-working spaces; and critical infrastructure providers, which are based across the North West.

Each LCP member (see notes to editors) will bring unique expertise, insights, and resources to support the LCP’s aspirations.

The National Cyber Force, which will be opening its new home in Samlesbury, Lancashire, in 2025 is a partnership between Defence and intelligence. It carries out cyber operations daily to counter and contest those who would do harm to the UK or its allies, to keep the country safe, and to protect and promote the UK’s interests at home and abroad. NCF’s presence will help stimulate growth across Lancashire’s technology, digital and defence sectors.

Lancaster University – a UK top ten university, home to internationally significant research and ‘gold’ standard teaching – recently announced a £19m flagship investment into cyber security and protection science. Lancaster will use its global expertise to drive cyber innovation and R&D across Lancashire, the North West Cyber Corridor, and beyond.

The University of Central Lancashire, which has specialisations in combating international cyber crime, and the industrial application of cyber technologies in sectors such as future flight and space, will also utilise its academic expertise, and R&D resources, to support the LCP’s mission.

Further, both universities also offer a wide range of cyber and cyber-related degrees, and post-graduate courses, which will help ensure Lancashire maintains a strong pipeline of graduate talent to support the growth of its cyber economy.

BAE Systems, which has around 10,000 workers in Lancashire, and supports thousands more jobs across the local supply chain will bring a world-leading advanced aerospace and defence technology perspective to the LCP.  The company, renowned for its work on the Typhoon, F-35 and Tempest military aircraft programmes also leads digital defence solutions and enterprise cyber security provisions, through its Digital Intelligence business.

With over a decade’s experience of working in partnership with both Lancashire’s private and public sectors, The Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) will use its convening power to bring the voice of business, and other local partners, to the LCP. This will include sharing views from the LEP’s industry-led Sector Groups, many of which feature SMEs who will directly benefit from growth in the cyber, digital, and technology sectors.

Lancashire County Council, working with partners, will help to ensure  that the sub-regional social and economic priorities of Lancashire’s local authorities, and the communities they represent, inform the work of the LCP, including embedding the inclusive growth principles of the Lancashire 2050 strategy – which is supported by all Lancashire’s 15 county, unitary and district councils – into the LCP’s approach. .

Commenting on the formation of the Lancashire Cyber Partnership, Andy Walker, Lancashire County Council’s Head of Business Growth, said: “Lancashire has recognised that by combining our commercial, industrial, academic and political strengths, we can become one of the world’s leading destinations for cyber jobs, R&D, and investment.

“The Lancashire Cyber Partnership is a testament to that partnership approach, and we are relishing the opportunities which a thriving and inclusive cyber economy will bring to all of Lancashire’s communities and stakeholders.”  

Air Vice-Marshal Tim Neal-Hopes OBE, Commander of the National Cyber Force, said: “I am immensely proud that the NCF is set to play a pivotal role in the development of Lancashire’s cyber ecosystem, and the far-reaching benefits that the cyber sector will bring to the whole of the County.

“This partnership, and opportunity, will ensure that Lancashire is uniquely placed to further establish its role as a national leader for cyber and security related capabilities, delivering enduring security, resilience, and prosperity for the nation. Working alongside our colleagues in the region, the LCP will further support the development of an integrated and collaborative North West Cyber Corridor, helping us to achieve the objectives outlined in the Government’s National Cyber Strategy.”

Sarah Kemp, Pro-Vice Chancellor at Lancaster University, said: “Lancaster University has been at the forefront of cyber and cyber security research and teaching for over a decade. As one of a handful of UK Universities whose education and research is recognised by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), we are excited about the opportunities we can bring to Lancashire and the wider region.

“Our existing partnerships with the National Cyber Security Centre, GCHQ, other government agencies and industry partners, will enable the LCP to bring significant benefits, and prosperity to Lancashire and beyond.”          

Professor Graham Baldwin, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Central Lancashire, said: “I’m delighted that the Lancashire Cyber Partnership chose to use the inaugural Lancashire Cyber Festival, which was hosted at UCLan, to announce its formation.

“Being a member of the LCP will help support UCLan’s commitment to widening participation in cyber, technology, and wider STEM disciplines, through both undergraduate courses and degree apprenticeships. It will also allow us to highlight the many non-technical pathways which we offer, open to students from all backgrounds, which could lead them to a high-value cyber career. 

Dave Holmes, BAE Systems FalconWorks® Managing Director, said: “BAE Systems is proud to be at the heart of the county’s advanced manufacturing, digital technology, and defence capability, with thousands of colleagues in the region. We’re proud of the role we play supporting the wider Lancashire economy and community, especially promoting STEM-related careers to Lancashire’s young people. Being part of the Lancashire Cyber Partnership will help us build on that work, and we are looking forward to supporting Lancashire, and all its regional and national partners.”

Debbie Francis OBE, Chair of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, said: “The LEP was very closely involved in bringing the NCF to Lancashire, and throughout that process we ensured that the needs and priorities of all of Lancashire’s different business communities, and sectors, were represented.

“Through our industry-led sector groups, our Digital Strategy, and our Innovation Board’s new five year Innovation Plan, the LEP will continue to act as the voice of business as the Lancashire Cyber Partnership moves forward. This is genuinely a once in a lifetime opportunity for the County, and we now need to all work together to maximise the benefits set to be generated for all of Lancashire.”