With cyber security increasingly becoming a priority for enterprises a tech industry lobby group is organizing a set of cross-Canada meetings to create the building blocks for a bigger security sector here.
The Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA) recently said it will hold three seminars early next year as part of its mandate to push for economic growth through advancing the cyber security industry.
As Katherine Thompson, chair of CATA’s cyber council made clear in an interview on Tuesday, the meetings will also buttress the federal government’s push to offer $950 million for the creation and support of five so-called technology-related superclusters. Ottawa has yet to decide what those clusters will be, but some have suggested artificial intelligence, smart grids, the auto sector and healthcare as candidates.
Cyber security could be one as well, Thompson said. Even if it isn’t, she said security will have to be baked into any technology product or service coming out of a cluster.
So CATA’s cyber council has decided to focus on finding ways to use the cyber sector to encourage economic growth, meet the growing cyber labour/skills shortage as well as spread security awareness.
It will be done through three regional meetings – one on the East Coast, one in Central Canada and one on the West Coast – in the first quarter next year with the public and private sectors to gather ideas.
”We (CATA) see the need for cyber security innovation to be part of any supercluster being stood up because there are concerns around security of IoT (the Internet of Things) and artificial intelligence and other areas where Canada is starting to get a lot of attention for innovation,” said Thompson, who is director of strategic markets at MNP consulting “Security by design should be built into any cluster.”
But, she added, there are questions of whether Canada has the labour, managment and financial ecosystem to support an expanding cyber security sector. There is a feeling, she added, that compared to other countries the answer is no. And, she said “the biggest single issue we’re hearing in CATA” is Canadian entrepreneurs leaving this country – and taking their intellectual property – because that ecosystem isn’t big enough here.
A number of nations are also realizing cyber security is a potentially lucrative growing sector. Israel, for example, starts teaching cyber security and coding in its public schools to have a well-trained cadre of students to chose from when it comes time for their mandatory military training. After serving their three-year term of duty some those who were in the army cyber security units will go into the private sector to found or work for many startups. And the Israeli government has lots of resources for helping those companies market themselves around the world.
Industry-led consortiums have until July 21 to submit a letter of intent to Ottawa for creating an innovation supercluster. The government will chose a group of finalists who will be allowed to submit an official application.
CATA’s focus on cyber security perhaps will be reflected in Ottawa’s upcoming new cyber security strategy. When announcing a federal cyber public consultation last August, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said not only do Canadians need to make ourselves and our businesses more secure online, we also need to take advantage of “selling our valuable cyber skills and products into a booming market throughout the rest of the world.”
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As for the CATA meetings, they will discuss problems of investment, access to skilled resources, educational and training programs, taxation and government incentives. No agenda has been set yet.
For more information Thompson can be reached at kthompson-AT-cata.ca.