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HOST appoints Director of Innovation to lead on Cyber, Data Science and AI

Innovation hub HOST, the Home of Skills & Technology, has strengthened its team with the appointment of a new director of innovation for cyber, data science and AI.

Saskia Coplans will lead on the development of HOST’s open innovation blueprint, where partner organisations from across Greater Manchester will converge at HOST to work together to champion and support innovation in the region.

She will help to establish and lead HOST’s Cyber Innovation Exchange (CIX) with an innovation and start-up incubation stream, as well as contribute to HOST’s Skills City talent development activities, which includes supporting employers with achieving their diversity and inclusion ambitions.

Based at HOST in MediaCityUK, Saskia will ensure the incubation of the best-in-class cyber, data science and AI start-ups and scale-ups, and support the rapid development and commercialisation of industry-leading disruptive innovations.

Working with HOST’s new Security Operations Centre (SOC), with partners Salford City Council, Saskia and the team will develop a unique Cyber Sandbox where sector-specific problem books and challenges can be tackled by HOST’s incubated start-ups with a clear commercial pathway upon success.

As co-founder of Digital Interruption and REXscan in Manchester, Saskia works with a diverse team of consultants who specialise in all areas of cyber security, leading the product and innovation side of the business. She heads two projects, REX, an android security scanner and RAPTOR, an AI-enabled malware classifier that both won Innovate UK grant funding in 2020/21.

Saskia has over a decade’s experience in information security and governance, along with standards and policy development. She has worked across Europe and Central Asia for governments, NGO’s, regulators and the private sector.

Mo Isap, CEO of IN4.0 Group, operators of HOST, said: “We are delighted to have Saskia in the team, she has achieved great success already in her entrepreneurial career, her experiences and knowledge will ensure our support is relevant, accessible and leads to long term success. We are not just about a programme or new IP, we are about supporting the entrepreneur’s journey which is as exciting and fulfilling as the eventual destination.

Saskia said: “I’m committed to community, sharing and collaboration so I’m really looking forward to working with the team at HOST as the director of innovation. The future of cyber security sits with intelligent tool development, to achieve this we need to work together to better share skills, information and knowledge across the technology sector.

“By working in partnership with established government, academic and commercial security organisations we can push the boundaries of cyber security, drive experimental development of these solutions and support the growth of small businesses through the rapid commercialisation of their products.”