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CSIRO program to help businesses mitigate cyber security risks

Cyber Security CSIRO

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is helping tackle the growing threat of cyber-attacks facing Australia by providing free research and development (R&D) support to businesses working in the cyber security sector.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) working on new cyber security solutions can join the free, 10-week online Innovate to Grow program offered by CSIRO, to support their idea with research and development expertise.

Upon completion of the program, participants may be able to access support, through CSIRO, to connect to research expertise nationally, along with dollar-matched R&D funding.

CSIRO’s Data 61 group leader Surya Nepal said cyber security attacks were a growing threat across the world impacting many different types of sectors.

“Cyber criminals are constantly finding new ways to carry our cyber-attacks, which can have devastating impacts for companies and consumers,” Nepal said.

According to the Australian Cyber Security Centre, there was an annual increase of 13 per cent of reports of cybercrime in the 2020-21 financial year.

CSIRO’s SME Connect deputy director George Feast said to stay ahead of these, new solutions are required.

“Much of this can be driven by SMEs – who make up 99.8 per cent of all businesses in Australia – developing new cyber products and services powered by R&D. However, R&D can be an expensive undertaking for businesses and risky for those without the right guidance and support,” Feast explained.

“Through our Innovate to Grow program, we invite participants to come with a specific cyber security commercial idea they’d like to explore. Over 10 weeks we’ll step businesses through how to refine their idea, to understand its research viability, and begin engaging a university or research institution to deliver a collaborative R&D project.”

Research released by CSIRO last year found that despite collaboration being key to drive strong R&D outcomes, less than 15 per cent of Australian businesses engage universities or research institutions for their innovation activities.

Business will also tap into CSIRO’s own cyber security expertise through Data61, CSIRO’s data and digital specialist arm, and be exposed to industry knowledge, hear from innovation and industry experts, and work with an R&D mentor.

Rezilens Operations project manager Corey Fraser, whose company helps make enterprise-level cybersecurity both affordable and accessible to Australian SMEs, completed the Innovate to Grow: Cyber Security program earlier this year.

“What was really appealing for us through this program was the exposure to academics and NGOs in the security space, along with the associated benefit of learning from their industry expertise. And finding out about how we could access potential funding opportunities,” Fraser said.

“I’d recommend this program for other start-ups who typically lack the capital and time to pursue these sorts of activities. Having the experience coordinated by CSIRO really aided in the structure and consistency of the program, and the lack of associated costs was a huge plus as well.”

Eligible companies can be working directly in cyber security or other industries that offer online solutions to their customers – such as agriculture and health – and want to improve the cyber security aspect of their offering.

CSIRO’s Innovate to Grow: Cyber Security program, commences 1 December and is available for 20-25 Small and Medium Enterprises (SME). Applications close on 7 November.

This program is funded by the Australian Government Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources through the Cyber Security Skills Partnership Innovation Fund.

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