This was the year that CyberNorth came of age, in my humble opinion. Not that these things happen by accident but after a few years toiling away, often by myself everything just seemed to gell. It has been amazing in that I feel it has moved from more of a passion project to a much more professional organisation.
Much of this change, dare I say success, has been down to the support of UK Cyber Cluster Collaboration (UKC3). Its financial support has meant we could do things before that were not possible yet it has been the support of the people that has really opened my eyes to the art of the possible. Through this year I have learnt that much of what we were doing at CyberNorth was along the right lines yet there were gaps to be filled and other areas to focus on. Each of the clusters around the UK is different in its own way and it has been interesting to see where CyberNorth is ploughing its own furrow.
We have built the team. There are now four of us paid part-time to work on the cluster with many others unpaid in support. This is something we never had and now our focus is on retaining the income to allow the team to continue. Next year is looking good so far. The people at CyNam, the cluster around Cheltenham, told me that having paid resources makes such a huge difference and they are right. Having a good team around me means I can focus on those things I’ve been trying to do without success.
But what else have we done at CyberNorth? We launched our new website which continues to grow on an almost daily basis. We sponsored our first Northumbrian Water Group Innovation Festival, with three excellent daily dashes. On the back of this we secured some support to develop a shared apprenticeship scheme. We’ll be back there again next year. We set up the Strategic Board giving us better governance and greater focus on the task ahead. Its impact was immediate. I know as I have ended up with more work!
#CyberFest was something else this year, with 17 events throughout September including a trapeze artist and juggler. We’re working on something even bigger and better for next year. We started work with the other northern cyber security clusters on a collaboration project, to look at how we can work better together. We held our first Empower girls event, along with Sage with CyNam, with over 300 young women at Newcastle United and we were part of the winning contract with RTC North to support NCSC’s CyberFirst programme in the region.
We also launched our new podcast – It’s Cyber Up North, available from where you normally get your podcasts.
It’s been an amazing twelve months and thanks go out to everyone that has been involved. There’s more to come next year!