Jim Dyke Discusses the Importance of Cyber Initiatives to Diversify Virginia’s Economy

March 2, 2020

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In a Feb. 28 column for the Richmond Times Dispatch, McGuireWoods Consulting senior advisor, Jim Dyke, and CNSI, Inc. CEO, Todd Stottlemyer, discussed Virginia’s leadership in the cyber dominion, and how a focus on cyber has helped to diversify the commonwealth’s economy.

Several years ago, federal defense contract dollars were declining in Virginia. In response to this decline, leaders in Richmond invested in research and education initiatives, and the Tech Talent Investment Program and the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI) helped bring Amazon HQ2 to Virginia.

“The cyber economy is expanding faster than our workforce, with more than 50,000 unfilled cybersecurity positions in the commonwealth and millions across the globe,” the authors said. “Addressing this challenge requires long-term thinking, investment and a spirit of collaboration.”

CCI addresses the commonwealth’s need for growth of the cyber workforce – with more than 320 researchers, 21 universities, 16 community colleges and 87 industry partners.

“Innovative research is underway across Virginia, looking at securing 5G at our ports, increasing safety in autonomous vehicles, assuring trustworthy artificial intelligence (AI), leveraging AI to protect our power grid and securing personal medical devices from malicious code,” they said.

A 5G Security Testbed will officially launch this year, which will allow hundreds of researchers to test and evaluate new solutions to challenging problems, and will also provide students access to cutting-edge technology.

“Our elected leaders in Richmond showed considerable foresight in establishing CCI a few years ago. State funding is just starting to flow. CCI’s first executive director will be starting next month. Partners across Virginia are working together in unprecedented collaborations,” the authors noted. “And together, we already have submitted more than $60 million in federal grant proposals — dollars for which Virginia would otherwise not compete.”