Cyber Innovation Academy Set to Tackle Skills Gap and Foster Collaboration in North Wales

Date: Monday, March 11, 2024

Work has started on a cyber hub, which is aiming to address a growing skills gap in the cyber security field in North Wales – as well as encourage cross-sector collaboration. 

The Cyber Innovation Academy (CIA), which is being developed at Prifysgol Wrecsam/Wrexham University’s Plas Coch campus in collaboration with Cyber Wales, is setting out to create a leading centre for cyber security capability development in the region. 

The CIA will be operated by the University and utilised by its Cyber Security and Computing students, however will also be available for use by industry partners.  

The facility will include a cyber escape room, which will not only be available to the University’s students but also available for use by both private and public sectors for their learning within cyber security. This will feature specific and tailored scenarios for industries and public sector organisations in the cyber escape room. 

Set to be completed and opened this Spring, it will provide students and external colleagues with access to innovative facilities for learning and practical training in protecting computer operating systems, networks, and data from cyber-attacks.  

With work now underway on the build of the CIA, the University played host to the UK’s first Cyber Protect and Prevent hackathon, where attendees heard all about the plans for the CIA.  

The hackathon called CodeSecure saw participants take on a challenge to create real life solutions to cybercrime. It was organised by North Wales Police Cyber Crime Team and supported by the University and Cyber Wales. 

Leanne Davies, Principal Lecturer for Cyber Security and Computing at Wrexham University, said: “It was fantastic to host the UK’s first Cyber Protect and Prevent hackathon and share with the over 100 attendees, our plans for the Cyber Innovation Academy, here at Wrexham University.” 

Jason Davies, Co-Founder of the North Wales Cyber Security Cluster and Cyber Wales, said: “It’s incredibly exciting that work has gotten underway on the Cyber Innovation Academy at the University.  

"This will be a first for North Wales – it’s going to be fantastic to be able to bring Police, Government, industry partners and students together in one space, with cyber-security knowledge and learning being at the core of that.” 

PC Dewi Owen of the Cyber Crime Team at North Wales Police added: “Everyone will know someone who has been affected by online fraud, cybercrime or computer misuse.  

“The Codesecure Hackathon was the first event of its kind in the UK and brought people together who developed exciting innovative cyber protect and prevent ideas that will make a real difference, and help us protect communities and businesses across North Wales from the latest Cyber threats. 
“We were really pleased to have had the opportunity to work with such a diverse group of individuals at the event, which was dedicated to developing ground-breaking ways to use new equipment in our effort to reduce and prevent cybercrime. 

“A massive congratulations to all the winners and a big thank you to those involved.” 

The winners of the Hackathon included Wrexham University students: The winners included Wrexham University students: Chris Edwards, Connor O’Keefe, Anthony Davies, Lewis Arnold and Abdullah Raji. 

Winners also included Conran Caffery, Aiden Reynolds-Hoofe, Brett Williams and the youngest participant of the day, Isobel Parry. 

Work on the Cyber Innovation Academy is due to be completed in the Spring.