Lancaster University partners with IN4 Group to develop cyber skills in the region

Two men smiling at camera in front of television screens
Professor Andy Schofield, Vice-Chancellor of Lancaster University and Mo Isap, CEO of IN4 Group

Lancaster University and IN4 Group have signed a new partnership, which will attract major investment into North West towns to develop the best tech talent from across every community in the region.

It will see the establishment of 24 CyberFirst Gold Hubs, one in each of the North West Local Authority areas, which aim to give every young person access to world-class technology skills and employment.

Lancaster University is one of only a handful of universities in the UK whose education, research and training is recognised by the National Cyber Security Centre. The University is further building on its strong track record in cyber security with a recently announced £19m investment into Security and Protection Science – an initiative that is in the process of recruiting 33 new cross-disciplinary academics, 15 professors in practice and 10 support staff.

CyberFirst Gold Hubs will attract inward investment to deliver STEM educational enrichment and develop a technology-embedded curriculum. They will work with education and corporate partners, including IBM, Northrop Grumman, KPMG UK, QinetiQ, and BT, to deliver skills to young people and drive employment through degree apprenticeships and degree courses. The hubs will be established with Cyberfirst Gold recognised Colleges and Sixth Forms.

“We need to urgently level the playing field to reach every single young person in every single conurbation, in every single town, in every single ward, and every single street to give them this opportunity to learn better with tech and have a clear pathway to achieving a career in tech,” said Mo Isap, CEO of In4 Group.

“This pioneering strategic partnership between IN4 Group and Lancaster University is a significant step towards building a thriving pipeline of tech talent that will help shape the future of the North West Cyber Corridor.”

This follows IN4’s North West contract for CyberFirst, a programme backed by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), part of GCHQ, which was established to encourage a diverse range of young people to pursue careers in the cyber sector.

The Lancaster University partnership will support the creation of cyber jobs in the region and upskill adults, to further cement Lancashire’s position at the heart of the North West Cyber Corridor. This will be through the CyberFirst programme’s activities and the upskilling of adult learners through IN4 Group’s Skills City division, which is one of the UK’s largest digital Skills Bootcamps operations.

Professor Andy Schofield, Vice Chancellor at Lancaster University, said: “We welcome this partnership with IN4 and are excited about the opportunities we can bring to young people in Lancashire and the wider region.

“Through this partnership, we aim to share our expertise in all aspects of cyber research, teaching and training with our communities and work to promote the cyber sector as a career choice to a range of people who may not have considered it.”

Sameena Khan, Director of Partnerships and Community at IN4 Group, has 23 years of experience working in government organisations relating to cyber and national security. She will be based at Lancaster University to support the establishment of key relationships across the government, academia and industry.

This collaboration builds on the previous success of the CyberFirst North West programme, which achieved £1.57 million of social impact in 2023, establishing 13 local schools and colleges from Lancashire and Greater Manchester as among the best in the UK for cyber and STEM education.

Lancaster is one of an elite group of universities – and the only one in the North West of England – to be triple accredited for excellence in cyber education and research across the board. This includes NCSC recognition as a Gold Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Education, having an Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research and having our Cyber Security Master’s programme certified.

Lancaster University’s commitment to commercialising research, working with businesses, its focus on local growth and regeneration and working with the public and third sector has been recognised in Research England’s 2023 Knowledge Exchange Framework, with the institution scoring 5 out of 5 in this area. Lancaster has a well-established reputation of working effectively with industry, having worked with more than 15,000 businesses from start-ups to multi-national corporations. Lancaster has set up a new Digital Security Hub in Manchester with a consortium of leading cyber security specialists last year, to help foster innovation and growth in the region and wider UK’s digital and cyber security sectors with the ambition of supporting 500 new start-ups and creating more than 1,000 local jobs.

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