RD18 - Commonwealth Cyber Initiative Blueprint – December 1, 2018

Executive Summary:

The Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI) will create a Commonwealth-wide ecosystem of innovation excellence in cyberphysical systems (CPS) with an emphasis on trust and security. CCI will ensure Virginia is recognized as a global leader in secure CPS and in the digital economy more broadly for decades to come by supporting world-class research at the intersection of data, autonomy, and security; promoting technology commercialization and entrepreneurship; and preparing future generations of innovators and research leaders. CCI will build on Virginia’s strong base of research excellence, its innovative and diverse higher education system, vibrant ecosystem of venture capital investment and high-growth firms, and unparalleled density of cybersecurity talent.

CCI must address two challenges, today’s workforce gap, and tomorrow’s new economy. They are different facets of the same problem and opportunity. To focus only on today’s workforce challenge is to miss an opportunity to diversify the economy. Today’s assessment is a look in the rear-view mirror. Conversely, to focus only on the future economy is to ignore the fact that the basis for that economy is threatened by the workforce gap. CCI is a highly-connected Network that engages of institutions of higher education, industry, and government, along with non-governmental and economic development organizations. It will connect Regional Nodes across the Commonwealth, each led by an institution of higher education. Regional Nodes will be vibrant centers of research, learning, and innovation tailored to their local ecosystem. To ensure success, CCI Regional Nodes will be certified by VRIC consistent with the commitment of Regional Node partners to the goals of the initiative.

The Hub, anchored by Virginia Tech and located in Northern Virginia, will enable world-class research focused on cybersecurity. By hosting faculty from CCI Network institutions, industry partners, and entrepreneurship programs, the CCI Hub will provide a center of mass for the cybersecurity innovation ecosystem across the Network, acting as a beacon to draw talent and partners to the Commonwealth.

The Hub will also coordinate the Network, strengthening connectivity and programs to build and align assets across Virginia, amplifying the efforts already underway and providing a one-stop access point to CCI resources for all stakeholders, current and future. To achieve its goals, CCI will both develop new programs and promote, amplify, align, and grow existing efforts across Virginia. CCI’s success relies on the active collaboration of institutions of higher education across the Commonwealth, contributing their experience, ideas, and expertise. The CCI Network will create an ecosystem that is greater than the sum of its parts.

CCI will build and a research alliance across the Network to build a Commonwealth-wide cyber innovation ecosystem, support curriculum alignment for more seamless credit transfers across the Commonwealth, cultivate holistic relationships with industry and government partners to support research, education, and experiential learning across the Commonwealth; and collect of market research and performance data, supporting strategic decision-making and continuous performance improvement.

Key activities include:

• Cyberphysical System Security (CPSS) Research: CPS and the internet of things promise to enhance the quality of life in many ways, but require advances in security and trust to ensure robust, safe, and widespread adoption and impact. This includes world-class research teams at the Hub and across the Network focused on the next-generation communication technologies that will support the internet of things, as well as machine learning and artificial intelligence for cybersecurity. Through a Network-wide research alliance, the team will partner with and host CCI-aligned researchers from institutions across the Commonwealth, bolstering CCI Network ties and enhancing synergies across the Nodes.

• Entrepreneurial Ecosystem: The CCI Network is committed to ensuring that research outcomes make their way to market quickly and effectively. CCI investments will grow and diversify the Virginia cyber economy Commonwealth-wide by promoting the commercialization of CPSS products and launching cyber-focused startups. The CCI Hub will support entrepreneurship across the Network by providing access to venture capital and supporting startups. CCI will support technology de-risking through approaches like proof-of-concept grants. In addition, Nodes will promote CPSS research and entrepreneurship in their regional ecosystems.

• Co-Op 2.0 Portal: To ensure that Virginia students are fully prepared to enter the innovation workforce upon graduation, the CCI Network will promote and support opportunities for long-term and year-round experiential learning in ways that do not prolong student time-to-degree. These longer-term relationships increase value for both stakeholder groups. CCI will support the distance learning, flexible educational schedules, and industry partnerships required to establish and scale these experiences across the Commonwealth. CCI funding will be made available for matching industry investment in student stipends.

The 2018-2020 Virginia State Budget invests $25 million in CCI. This appropriation includes $10 million to scale the initiative and recruit faculty both the Hub and Node sites. An additional $10 million is provided to establish the Hub, including research faculty, entrepreneurship programs, and student internships. Finally, $5 million is available for renovations, space enhancements, and equipment.

CCI’s success will be measured by well-defined output indicators (see table). CCI will also produce real outcomes for the Commonwealth, such as student employment in cyber fields in Virginia industry, patent licensing, and venture capital invested in spin-outs.

To achieve these outcomes, CCI recommends an additional $40 million in funds to further scale the Hub, pilot new programs to scale degree production, and recruit scholars and researchers across the Commonwealth. The CCI Network should be sustained by a $28 million annual investment in research and educational faculty support, Co-Op 2.0 support, and other Network programs. These funds will be leveraged to grow a combination of philanthropy, industry investment, and sponsored research programs totaling over $20 million for the initial investments and growing to $35 million annually at steady state.