Thales and the Welsh Government have announced the next stage of development to create a living laboratory campus for cyber trust at the former steelworks site in Ebbw Vale.
The development will add two new centres alongside the National Digital Exploitation Centre (NDEC) to create ResilientWorks, a campus including research laboratories and a test track and model street complex. They expect organisations from startups to major international companies and governments will use ResilientWorks to test and “develop trust in operational technology and key infrastructure for growth sectors in the economy and critical public services”.
The project is part of the Welsh Government’s wider plans to build a new tech cluster in Blaenau Gwent. The £7m initiative will be jointly funded by Thales and the Welsh Government’s Tech Valleys programme, with a research contribution from Cardiff University, to create what they’re calling the “Autonomous Trust Centre”.
The say the centre will be a facility “giving Wales a distinctive edge in the crucial resiliency of the cyber networks needed for autonomous vehicles to work safely and reliably, including a test track and model street complex”. They’re also building the Trydan Centre – a facility that explores cyber security in the generation, transmission, and storage of electricity.
The National Digital Exploitation Centre (NDEC), the anchor facility for ResilientWorks on the former steelworks site, is now two years into operation and is thriving despite the economic disruption of Coronavirus. An innovative partnership between Thales, Welsh Government, and the University of South Wales, NDEC has already won work for Wales from Innovate UK and the UK Government, and is working with companies from Europe and overseas, including GE Steam Power and TT Electronics, as well as Welsh companies such as Protecht and Awen Collective. The Centre has also become the key global operational technology cyber centre for Thales globally. NDEC has supported 5 PhDs, engaged with 75 schools, works with UK universities and local FE colleges, and has 85 local suppliers and over 90% of its staff from South Wales.
Gareth Williams, VP, Secure Communications and Information Systems (SIX), Thales, said, “When we partnered with Welsh Government and USW to create NDEC, we made a commitment that we would keep working to grow the importance of Ebbw Vale as a technology industry hub, with all of the benefits that could bring for future generations and the current Foundational Economy.
“Not many companies are making major multi-million-proud investments at the moment. But our view that this bold initiative will give the valleys a critical mass in cyber for critical infrastructure, benefiting the smaller companies of the South Wales cyber cluster, bringing in new work and investment from outside Wales, and giving Wales a distinct identity in the international technology markets.”
Wales’s Deputy Minister for Economy, Lee Waters added, “Embracing digital innovation is vital if we are to succeed in a world where technology is advancing rapidly and playing a crucial role in the way we live our lives and how we work.
“Our commitment to ResillientWorks underpins this evolution and is part of our plan to build a new tech cluster in Ebbw Vale that will drive the economy of Blaenau Gwent and beyond, and give Wales a distinctive edge.
“I am delighted that the Welsh Government has been able to support this crucial project which, along with a Blaenau Gwent based pilot for 5G technology and innovative new business accommodation, will be key as we rebuild the local economy so that it is more prosperous, green and fairer than ever before.”
NDEC currently employs 13 people and includes an education programme, cyber range, and a range of support and services for technology businesses. The ResilientWorks expansion will, within three years, more than double the Thales presence on the Ebbw Vale site in South Wales.
(Picture – Thales)