A proposed $50 million state-owned cybersecurity innovation center would be built in Augusta, nearly 150 miles from Atlanta’s rapidly growing cyber hub. Despite that distance, enthusiastic Atlanta-based cybersecurity industry executives say the halo effect of a state-backed research and training hub will pay dividends for Atlanta’s cybersecurity sector by driving private investment to the sector, attracting cyber companies and nurturing home-grown startups.
The new cyber center will focus on several missions, including education, training and research and development. It also will be an incubator hub for cybersecurity startups.
The center will train Georgia teachers in cyber instruction aimed at elementary and secondary school students, said Calvin Rhodes, executive director of the Georgia Technology Authority (GTA), the state agency coordinating the initiative.
At the college level, the center will supplement cyber courses taught on campuses across the state including Georgia Tech and Kennesaw State University, he said.
The new center will also provide cybersecurity training to state employees, a need at agencies increasingly susceptible to cyber crime. A key tool in those education and training programs will be the center’s cyber range, a virtual environment that will create scenarios for students to practice what they’ve learned.
The cyber range will have practical applications for small cyber companies that can’t afford their own range.
“We can bring in start-up or mid-size companies that want to leverage the range to try out a product,” Rhodes said.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is in a hurry to get construction of the center under way as soon as possible. He’s asking the General Assembly to include the $50 million he is seeking as a cash appropriation in the mid-year 2017 budget rather than finance the project with bonds in the fiscal 2018 budget, the usual route for large state building projects.
Dave Williams covers government for Atlanta Business Chronicle.
Urvaksh Karkaria covers technology for Atlanta Business Chronicle.