TIM lecture welcomes Israeli cybersecurity expert

Israel and Canada are “natural partners” when it comes to cybersecurity, Israeli ambassador Rafael Barak told an audience at Carleton University this week.

“I foresee a future where the cybersecurity hubs in Ottawa and Beersheva are closely intertwined in a larger global network of ties,” Mr. Barak said as he introduced guest speaker Roni Zehavi at the event organized by the Embassy of Israel, VENUS Cybersecurity Corporation and Carleton’s Technology Innovation Management program.

Mr. Zehavi is CEO of CyberSpark, an Israeli cyber-innovation centre in the southern desert city of Beersheva. When it launched in 2014, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared it would not only be the cybersecurity capital of his country, but one of the most important cybersecurity hubs in the world.

Mr. Zehavi spoke of the importance of synchronizing industry, academic and government officials to create a vibrant ecosystem.

“The power of an ecosystem is that it can generate a substantially higher level of operation through synergistic collaboration of the talented stakeholders associated with a specific domain,” he said.

Cybersecurity is a crucial technology growth engine for Israel, and Mr. Zehavi discussed the environmental, industrial, academic and human capital initiatives put in place to promote Beersheva as the cyber capital of Israel.

After Mr. Zehavi’s speech, the crowd of 90 – representing businesses and organizations from Ottawa, Montreal, Kingston and New York – identified various ways to bridge the Beersheva and Ottawa cybersecurity ecosystems.

Ideas included organizing a global competition for ventures in cybersecurity, developing interfaces into smart cities, enabling companies to match-make quickly and validate and test their proofs of concept in other countries and organizing events that enhance trust among participants.

“Ottawa entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs in other parts of the world have much in common, including the need to sell globally, not just in local markets,” said TIM faculty member Steven Muegge. “It makes sense to create an environment that enables these ventures to collaborate as they address global market needs.”   

TIM director Tony Bailetti said being part of an ecosystem that links smart cities around the world is key to Ottawa’s growth, adding the event was a great learning experience.

“We all need to work hard to make Ottawa a global city with strong cybersecurity capabilities and develop an ecosystem that can link our region with the most vibrant cybersecurity ecosystems and smart cities,” he said.