​Australian government pledges AU$50m for cybersecurity research centre

The seven-year investment will see the launch of a cybersecurity cooperative research centre to deliver solutions that increase the security of critical infrastructure in Australia.

The federal government has announced a new cybersecurity cooperative research centre (CRC), to be led by industry in a bit to build Australia's cyber security capability.

The government has pledged AU$50 million over seven years for the cybersecurity CRC, with over AU$89 million in further funding to come from the 25 industry, research, and government partners.

According to the government, the cybersecurity CRC will deliver solutions to increase the security of critical infrastructure.

"These include frameworks, products, and approaches that will service existing and future ICT enterprises across a broad range of platforms and operating systems," Assistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Craig Laundy said in a statement.

Laundy said the activities of the cybersecurity CRC will contribute to the objectives laid out in Australia's AU$240 million Cyber Security Strategy, which is aimed at defending the nation's cyber networks from organised criminals and state-sponsored attackers.

In addition, the Australian Cyber Security Growth Network (AustCyber), which is part of the Government's Industry Growth Centres Initiative, will work closely with the cybersecurity CRC to facilitate collaborative research that meets the needs of Australian industry, Laundy explained.

The Australian government launched AustCyber in December, under the name of the Cyber Security Growth Centre. AustCyber operates as a not-for-profit company and is led by Craig Davies, former head of security for Australian startup Atlassian. It is responsible for driving the development of a "vibrant and globally competitive" cybersecurity industry in Australia, as well as ensuring Australian businesses can take advantage of the growing market opportunity in cybersecurity.

As touched on in the Growth Network's cyber plan laid out in April, an item high on Davies' agenda is to change the understanding of what collaboration means in Australia.

"Australia ranks 34th in the world for collaboration -- it's out of 35," Davies said, speaking at the Emerging Cyber Threats Summit in Sydney in June. "For an Australian, collaboration seems to mean, 'let's go have a coffee' or generally a beer."

Davies said talking about the problems organisations are facing actually leads to better outcomes -- something he said is able to happen without breaching any laws.

In addition to Davies, AustCyber's board comprises the former senior vice president and group executive for IBM Doug Elix; Data61 CEO Adrian Turner; Heather Ridout AO, a former long-term chief executive of the Australian Industry Group, and chair of numerous business and community organisations; and Mike Burgess, most recently chief information security officer of Telstra, and previously holding senior roles with the Australian Signals Directorate.

Turnbull initially pledged AU$30 million through to 2019-20 in December 2015 as part of the government's AU$1.1 billion National Science and Innovation Agenda.

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