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NHS Scotland to base specialist cyber operations centre at Abertay University
cyberQuarter hub Abertay University/Supplied
Cyber

NHS Scotland to base specialist cyber operations centre at Abertay University 

A specialist cybersecurity operations centre is to be set up by NHS Scotland to boost online resilience for health services across the country.

Around 30 staff from NHS NSS (National Services Scotland) will occupy the new cyberQuarter hub at Abertay University in Dundee when it opens early next year.

The operations centre, based at the Bell Street campus, will offer work experience to the university’s growing talent pool of cyber graduates, who are sought after worldwide for their digital skills.

Deryck Mitchelson, director of digital and security at NHS National Services Scotland, said: “NSS is proud to bring digital and security services to the new hub at cyberQuarter. Our work harnesses technology to transform healthcare services, or the way they’re delivered. But in this case, it has the potential to change lives in another way.

“NSS’s base will create 30 new jobs and develop the next generation of digital security specialists, simultaneously supporting their career growth whilst safeguarding NHS data. An organisation as complex as Scotland’s NHS requires security that strengthens critical systems and infrastructure and our dedicated cybersecurity centre at cyberQuarter will do just that.”

The cyberQuarter is funded through the joint UK and Scottish Government-supported Tay Cities Deal and the new jobs are the first positions to be announced since the deal was signed.

Designed to attract new and existing cybersecurity firms to the region, the cyberQuarter will also support the creation of new companies, boost the security and resilience of the Scottish business community and facilitate the creation of new products and services through innovation-led research. 

The Scottish Government has committed up to £6 million and the UK Government up to £5.7 million to the project, with Abertay University the other main funder.

It is expected that other cybersecurity organisations will either locate in the cyberQuarter or take up flexible working spaces in the building as the project rolls out, with some negotiations already underway.

The cyberQuarter is being created by fully renovating the unused upper three floors of Abertay Student Centre, providing office, events and collaboration/experimentation space, alongside secure cloud-computing infrastructure to enable online teaching, R&D and knowledge-exchange activities.

A new café and social space will be created across the full ground floor footprint of the building, providing a modern focal point for the campus that will welcome students, staff, visitors, cyberQuarter tenants and members of the public. 

Renovation work begins this month and, once complete, the building will be renamed The Lamont Building in honour of Annie Keir Lamont, an influential Dundee activist and graduate of Abertay’s predecessor institution, Dundee Technical Institute, who studied magnetism and electricity, and telegraphy and telephony in 1903/04.

With sustainable development part of the planning process, elements of the existing building will be reused where possible, with bar fittings to be modified and repurposed and kitchen equipment to be moved to the main University building for use on Abertay’s food science courses.

Interior concept designs for the new layout have been designed by Wellwood Leslie Architects.

Dr Natalie Coull, head of the division of cybersecurity at Abertay University said: “We are delighted to be making progress on the cyberQuarter building, and to have NHS NSS basing their operations here demonstrates both the calibre of the project and our commitment to creating new, high quality cyber jobs in the Tay Cities region. The cyberQuarter will hugely benefit both our existing University community and the wider Scottish cyber sector, and we are now looking forward to progressing towards the next steps of the project and to seeing the fantastic new building designs taking shape.”

Scottish Government economy secretary Kate Forbes said: “I’m pleased to see such a positive example of the impact our investment in the Tay Cities Region Deal is having. It’s great news for the region to secure 30 highly skilled jobs in this vital sector, and to see that NHS NSS will also be working with Abertay University to create new opportunities for their students. With the University’s commitment to inclusive growth and the local student base, I hope this will help ensure that local people have the chance to benefit from these developments.”

UK Government minister Iain Stewart said: “The last year has shown the value of digitally connected systems, at home, at work and for our public services, and how important it is that we protect these. The UK Government is contributing £5.7 million to the cyberQuarter as part of the Tay Cities Deal, supporting cybersecurity skills and expertise and bringing new jobs and businesses to the region. This will complement the work of the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre, which is building greater capabilities and resilience across the entire country. We are also investing more than £1.5 billion into region deals across Scotland, helping to build back better after the pandemic.”

Chair of the Tay Cities joint committee, Councillor John Alexander said: “It’s fantastic to see the work that has gone into the Tay Cities Deal translating into new jobs and investment in the region. The cyberQuarter project is a natural fit for the area as our tech sector continues to go from strength to strength, and I’m very pleased to see the NHS NSS cybersecurity team basing their national operations in Dundee.”

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