The University of Ottawa will soon open what it calls a hub for research in cybersecurity and cyber safety, with IBM Canada as the first of what is expected to be several industry partners.

The two sides said this week that the hub — it doesn’t have a physical space yet on campus — will officially open in the spring.

It will in part take advantage of the university’s 11-year partnership with IBM’s Canada Lab, which has helped turn out a number of patents and research papers including some relating to cybersecurity, in addition to assisting students to graduate with advanced degrees.

In an interview Guy Levesque, the university’s dean of research said his institution will get two benefits.

“One is making sure we’re producing cyber-literate students coming out of engineering, law and management [courses],” he said. This is to meet the demand from the private and public sectors are asking of all universities, he added. The University of Ottawa can offer bilingual graduates, he indicated, in demand particularly in the capitol.

“The other is helping to bring partners together so we can tackle the daunting challenges around technology issues around cyber [including] security, privacy and ethics,” he said. Helping to create real-world solutions is also part of the goal.


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Steve Astorino, an IBM Canada vice-president and director of its Canada Lab, said “skill-building is going to be one of the key exercises.”

The hub will address “how do we bring expertise and technology together between academia and IBM on innovative cybersecurity solutions and preventive measures.”


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Marcellus Mindel, head of the IBM Canada Lab’s centre for advanced studies, said the University of Ottawa was selected in part because of the work his company does with professor Guy-Vincent Jourdan and his research team. IBM will know who has completed masters and Ph.D.’s in cyber-related work, he explained, and it will contribute an unspecified amount of technology, research support and access to special data sets.

Levesque emphasized that the hub will focus on cyber safety of users as well as cybersecurity. The problem not only is technical, he said, but also “human-centred,”

Several university departments are interested in being part of the hub, he said, including the faculties of engineering, electrical engineering and computer science, math, law and the school of management.

Until the hub opens, Levesque said, “we ‘re going to spend the next few months bringing together all the researchers and define priority initiatives for 2020.”

It’s also going to need a name, he added.


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