One of the capital’s fastest-growing tech startups is providing millions of dollars’ worth of training and software to help Algonquin College beef up its graduate cybersecurity certificate program.One of the capital’s fastest-growing tech startups is providing millions of dollars’ worth of training and software to help Algonquin College beef up its burgeoning cybersecurity certificate program. The Ottawa-based post-secondary school announced last week it has formed a “strategic partnership” with Field Effect Software that will see the Glebe-based cybersecurity company’s education platform, Cyber Range, used to help students respond to simulated cyber attacks that mimic real-world threats. The total value of the deal is pegged at about $2 million in software and other in-kind services over the next three years. John Dallas, the chair of Information and Communications Technology, Security and Systems Networking at Algonquin, said the college’s current cybersecurity simulations require significant training and technical expertise to implement. Field Effect’s platform, by contrast, has a “very slick” user interface that allows students to quickly “drag and drop” pre-built or custom-programmed scenarios based on real-world incidents. “We’re able to get those simulations running very quickly because we don’t we don’t have to do such intense setup,” Dallas said. “It frees up faculty to focus on what we want them focusing on, which is developing relevant and high-quality training in cybersecurity.” Launched in 2021, Algonquin’s one-year graduate cybersecurity certificate program now includes two cohorts of about 60 people each. Students are trained to thwart hackers in a state-of-the-art lab that features more than half a million dollars’ worth of digital forensics equipment, servers and devices such as smartphones and card readers. But Dallas admitted it’s difficult for educators on a college campus to keep pace with what’s happening in the real world. That prompted Algonquin to explore opportunities to tap into the expertise of companies like Field Effect that do battle with cyber attackers on a daily basis. “The malicious actors are getting more sophisticated every day, and we want to make sure that students have access to up-to-date training,” he said. “It means we need a partner in the field that handles this stuff.” With demand for cybersecurity experts growing every year, Dallas said the new deal will allow the college to expand its program. “Anything that helps us deliver education faster and to more individuals is key,” he explained. “This product helps us scale up our training. I think Field Effect really shared our vision for what we’re trying to do, which is to make sure that we have skilled graduates to fill all of these positions that are available. “Without this partnership, we would continue to produce the same number of graduates, and that wouldn’t nearly be enough to meet the labour demand for skilled cyber professionals.” Field Effect co-founder and CEO Matt Holland said the arrangement will help make his industry stronger in the long run. “We are thrilled about the positive impacts this partnership will have on the cybersecurity education landscape,” Holland said in a statement. “Together, we will prepare cybersecurity students with the hands-on training they need to enter the workforce with confidence, while also arming today’s security professionals with the tools and skills they need to excel.” Algonquin will also use Field Effect’s technology to create its own tailor-made course content, which it can then share with other institutions or use in bootcamps and other training exercises aimed at helping industry professionals upgrade their credentials. “We meet with a lot of groups, and what we have heard time and time again is there is a need out there for those in IT divisions to be skilled up in this field,” Dallas said.
Already an Insider? Log in
- Critical Ottawa business news and analysis updated daily.
- Immediate access to all Insider-only content on our website.
- 4 issues per year of the Ottawa Business Journal magazine.
- Special bonus issues like the Ottawa Book of Lists.
- Discounted registration for OBJ’s in-person events.