The University of Canberra and global technology company Cisco unveiled their new partnership today, which will focus on boosting Australia’s cybersecurity resilience.

The partnership will help to address the national cybersecurity skills shortage, secure Australia’s critical infrastructure, and expand the National Industry Innovation Network (NIIN), an alliance of companies and universities focused on the role that digital adoption can play in meeting Australia’s economic and social challenges.

“Cybersecurity is a major challenge for us at every level, and certainly for industry, government and universities – therefore, it is equally a major source of new jobs and innovation. There is enormous scope for Australia to improve its resilience against cyber attacks including the use of advanced digital technologies,” University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor Professor Paddy Nixon said.

“Improving Australia’s cyber resilience will require action on many fronts: industry-driven research, applied innovation, and a focus on meeting current and future demand for specialist skills.

“The University of Canberra is looking forward to working with Cisco and other industry and education partners to tackle some of the nation’s most pressing challenges related to cybersecurity, and digital adoption more broadly.”

Initiatives under the partnership will include the establishment of Innovation Central Canberra, a hub for industry and government in which to validate cybersecurity technologies, develop prototypes and de-risk the adoption process.

Innovation Central Canberra will be the sixth in a national network of Cisco innovation centres co-located on university campuses.

Professor Janine Deakin, Executive Dean of the University’s Faculty of Science and Technology, said that Innovation Canberra Central will take the Faculty’s engagement with industry to a new level.

“It brings fantastic opportunities for our staff and students to engage with industry on major real-world challenges related to cybersecurity, critical infrastructure and defence,” Professor Deakin said.

“Being part of the National Industry Innovation Network will bring opportunities for our staff and students to collaborate more broadly with other universities and industries across the country.”

The role of Research Chair in Critical Infrastructure and Defence has been established as part of the partnership, focused on applied research related to cybersecurity, across several industries including Defence.

Dr Kumudu Munasinghe, the University’s Head of School of Information Systems and Technology is the interim Research Chair.

The agreement will also see the expansion of Cisco’s Networking Academy to the University of Canberra. The Academy is a global education program that provides best-in-class courses, tools, and resources to help people from all backgrounds participate in the digital economy, and connects them with peers, mentors, and job opportunities.

With its major focus on Defence and critical infrastructure, the partnership will allow companies to experiment with new technologies, collaborate on applied research and to address forecast cyber security skills shortages.

As part of the NIIN, the partners aim to realise digital opportunities that will benefit the lives of all Australians.

“The partnership with the University of Canberra is a strategically important element in terms of what we are trying to achieve with the National Industry Innovation Network. Cisco is committed, and is investing in strategic partnerships with universities to accelerate the adoption of technology and address major risks to the Australian economy and society,” Cisco ANZ Vice President Ben Dawson said.

“The focus on cybersecurity recognises that protection of data and infrastructure needs to be a national priority. It also acknowledges the important role that Canberra plays from a cybersecurity policy, skills and operations perspective, including in Defence and national security.

“Cisco’s investment in the National Industry Innovation Network is producing great results in areas as diverse as critical infrastructure, Net Zero, hybrid work and accelerating digital transformation.”