We had the pleasure of being one of the invited Welsh organisations at the Welsh Government Cyber Trade Mission to Brussels on the 28th February 2018.
After some difficult train journeys in different countries the day before which were full of delays, cancellations and strikes, we were very pleased to be representing Wales and Welsh Business in Belgium.
The day itself was packed full of presentations from the likes of the Welsh Government Office in Brussels, Welsh Cyber Cluster/Ecosystem, the Belgian Cyber Cluster/Ecosystem, the fintech cluster B-Hive, the Belgian CERT, the NATO NCI Agency, the European Commissioner for Security (Sir Julian King), the Welsh Assembly Minister for Finance (Mark Drakeford AM), the British Ambassador to Belgium (Alison Rose), representatives from 3 of the Welsh Universities, and then all the invited SMEs from Wales including Awen Collective.
We heard about progress being made in the public and private sectors in regards to a variety of subjects including: GDPR, NIS Directive, Penetration Testing, Cryptography, Cyber-Crime Law, Certification, Digital Forensics & Incident Response, IoT, Industrial Control Systems and much more.
The day finished with an enjoyable reception at the British Ambassadors Residence to celebrate the eve of St David's Day, who is, of course, the Patron Saint of Wales. Thankfully inside was warm, while the night air in Brussels reached around -9°C.
The whole day has enabled us to make new connections with people in Wales, Belgium, France and elsewhere, and we shall be following up on those new contacts to transform those connections into collaborations.
One particular subject was raised throughout the day, and that is the exit of the UK from the European Union (i.e. "Brexit") and how that might impact cyber-attacks, the cyber-security market and the economy in general. Awen Collective has decided not to raise any particular official opinion on the matter of Brexit, but what I will say here is that events such as this trade mission and the resultant actions prove that it is through collaboration that real solutions can be developed, and not through isolation or egotism.
Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus! Happy St David's Day!