Northern Cluster Collaboration

I’m back thinking about clusters again, especially as last week saw us kick off a project to look at how the three Northern cyber security clusters can work more closely together. We have started off by commissioning some work to see what relevant ‘assets’ the region has. 

There are things that are strongly or more loosely related to cyber security. Companies that provide cyber security services are strongly related, obviously, while businesses that have cyber security departments or have the potential to do so are less strong. The problem, as always, is where to draw the line. As cyber security affects every thing that we do, then every business has the potential to be an ‘asset’ and so we may as well copy out the Yellow Pages, if they still exist.

Once we have this information we can then start to think about what we are going to do with it. But why?

Firstly, I firmly believe that the North has every capability of playing on the world cyber security stage. I am sure we have everything that we need but perhaps don’t realise it and certainly don’t coordinate our strengths. BY mapping what we have we will have a great springboard for action.

Secondly though we have clustered the North along geographical boundaries. Anyone who commutes to work knows that these lines on a map are irrelevant on a day to day basis. People cross county and borough boundaries all the time without a second thought. It could be that we are wrong. 

Clusters may exist in different dimensions. Take the North East for example. The cyber businesses in Tees Valley may have a closer association with North Yorkshire than Tyneside while businesses in Berwick may look north to Edinburgh rather than south to Newcastle. They may also exist across industry so chemical processing plants on Teesside may have more in common with those on the Wirral than with their immediate hinterland.  Businesses may be clustered by economic areas, health trusts or police regions which may or may not be coterminous with local authority boundaries.

Let’s see what the information tells us. There are stories about the cyber security sector in the North waiting to get out. Once we have heard them and understood them, then we will be in a better position to think about the future.

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