They say that everyday is a  school day and that is certainly true now that the CyberNorth Cyber Security Innovation Centre is finally underway, with the enormous support of the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology.

A lot has changed in the last seven years since the original idea was conceived. Back then big centres were the thing, with the London Office for Rapid Cyber Security Advancement (LORCA) underway at the Olympic Village in Greenwich. Ideas and needs change, as do funding regimes and CyberNorth’s Innovation Centre is a lot smaller, a lot cheaper yet much more portable and flexible. It is also much more doable and provides a model for rinse and repeat. 

Not only has the cohort been learning but so has the CyberNorth team. Some of the assumptions that we made about the programme have turned out to work perfectly while others have been added to the lessons learned log. Running across two centres simultaneously has been a challenge and, as expected, some people are unable to make it. Here, having two bites of the cherry has actually helped.

The programme is now two workshops in, out of six. Workorkshop one covered three areas under a general topic of ‘Product’. We started off with a workshop on value proposition and business model canvas. Some of the candidates had fairly fixed ideas of what they wanted to do while others were right at the beginning. The exercise helped them to get their ideas straight or have a rethink about their approach. After lunch we got to think about marketing, our approach to taking products to market and raising awareness of the business. To round off the day we had a session on ensuring you think about security for your enterprise. This is vitally important for all businesses but when you are working in that sector it should have an even greater focus.

Workshop two is covering the ‘Customer’ with the morning session on turning prospects into sales and the afternoon session on market analysis and finding customers. The idea behind the programme is not to sort out the issues that the candidates would face when setting up their businesses but rather to make everyone aware of the things they need to think about. 

The workshops have certainly done that. There has been a buzz about the room, with people interacting both with the presenters and perhaps more importantly with each other. Being part of the community is so important to what we are trying to do.

Feedback has been good with one delegate saying ‘I cannot thank you enough for arranging the workshop… this was one of the most insightful workshops I have ever been in. Another added ‘I had a fantastic time discussing the next few weeks ahead for the CyberNorth startups…’

A huge thanks go to everyone involved in getting the Innovation Centre going and we are working hard to repeat it later on in the year.