Businesses across the region will be able to get help and support to get the digital skills they need to grow thanks to a landmark new partnership.
De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) has become the artificial intelligence and cyber partner of East Midlands Chamber, enabling businesses in Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire to access the latest digital skills training to drive growth.
The news comes as DMU and the Chamber prepare for East Midlands Cyber Security Week, which runs from March 8 and gives practical steps to look at practical steps that businesses can be taking to protect themselves against digital crime.
The university will support the Chamber’s new Digital Upscaler programme, a £3.6m scheme backed by the European Regional Development Fund that runs until March 2023. It aims to help hundreds of ambitious and scale-up businesses, via a suite of ongoing technical support and capital grants, to explore and introduce new technologies that will improve business resilience, productivity and growth.
It builds on the Digital Growth Programme in Leicestershire, which will run from July 2016 to March 2022 with the goal of helping SMEs understand the importance of digital technology and embed new ways of working.
Professor David Mba, Pro Vice-Chancellor Research and Enterprise, said: “This is the start of a very exciting partnership for us at DMU and East Midlands Chamber. We know there is a need to help SMEs prepare for Industry 4.0 and this investment is absolutely crucial to help small and medium-sized businesses move to the next level.
“DMU is at the forefront of the latest developments in digital technology and how it is applied to businesses. This project will accelerate the huge potential of the digital economy in the East Midlands and create more innovative, more productive businesses in the process.”
DMU is home to one of the country’s leading cyber technology centres that works with multinational firms such as Airbus and Rolls-Royce, and advises companies around the UK on how best to protect their networks from hackers and security threats.
Experts in AI are working with firms to identify new markets, streamline processes and create opportunities.
Other areas of expertise include smart transport, using innovation to enable personalised healthcare and working with companies to identify the best ways of working digitally.
As part of the new link-up between the Chamber and DMU, a cyber forum will be created to team academics and researchers working at the cutting edge of security and threat technology with industry figures. This will ensure training addresses the issues and skills needs of businesses.
Companies signing up to the free programme will be assigned an advisor who will run a digital diagnostic to investigate staff skills, how much technology is used currently, and put together a plan to help them achieve their potential.
Chamber deputy chief executive Diane Beresford said: “DMU is not only the region’s leading authority on cyber security and AI, but also a national centre of excellence as recognised by the NCSC, which is part of GCHQ.
“It’s therefore fantastic to be able to strike such a landmark partnership that will equip businesses in our region with the latest digital skills they need today and tomorrow.
“The pandemic has pushed us even deeper into the digital age, at a faster pace, and it’s crucial for businesses to get up to speed with both the opportunities and threats this presents.”