Professional Development
Cybersecurity / Professional development

Maryland stakeholders are launching a cyber connection initiative

The National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence and the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation are launching the Cybersecurity Connections Initiative to help grow the county and state's cyber industry.

Hacking in progress. (Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko via Pexels)
Update: This article has been updated since its initial publication to clarify the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence's (NCCoE) relationship to its founding entities, as well as Bill Newhouse's affiliation with both the NCCoE and its primary oversight agency, the National Institute of Standards and Technology. (3/1/2023, 12:26 p.m.)

Next month, a group of Maryland-based power players will launch a new initiative to grow the local cyber community.

The Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC) and the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE) are collaborating on that project, known as the Cybersecurity Connections Initiative. The NCCoE is a collaborative that the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Maryland Department of Commerce and Montgomery County jointly established to help further cybersecurity tech and best practices across various economic sectors. These stakeholders hope to provide cyber services to companies, government agencies and academic entities alike; they also aim to better address the cyber needs of the state and connect cyber companies and workers with those seeking to boost digital security.

Together, the organizing entities completed a memorandum of understanding with partner organizations to help facilitate collaboration in the sector, offering opportunities for tech transfer or licensing of technology and more.  The initiative will be hosting a networking lunch and signing ceremony on March 6, with a cybersecurity connections webinar series to follow.

While the program is anchored around cybersecurity, officials said they’re also hoping to include cyber work in areas such as hospitality, medtech and biotech. This way, the state and county can stay in the loop about cyber work in Maryland and potentially help professionals take advantage of the area’s facilities.

Judy Costello, a special projects manager for Montgomery County, told that she wants the program to localize the widespread benefit of cybersecurity — an already prominent subset of Maryland’s tech sector.

“We view this collaboration at NCCoE as an important economic development asset, a tool that serves the nation but is right in here in our backyard,” Costello said.

Cyber is one of the industries that MCEDC focuses on, Costello said, so it’s looking to boost economic development in an already quite active field. She also hopes the initiative will support tech transfer from federal labs and other entrepreneurship activity in the ecosystem — similar to a hospitality tech accelerator it launched earlier this month.

With this collaboration, NIST/NCCoE Project Lead and Cybersecurity Engineer Bill Newhouse said it will be a chance to show that there is a cyber pipeline with plenty of room to grow.

“These are the good conversations to have to figure out, ‘Okay, this worked, why?’ And continue with, ‘Where else haven’t we gone? What gaps are we missing? Which parts of our local population do we want to support more?” Newhouse said. “It’s exciting and a good challenge for us to take on.”

The program will also work with Montgomery College and The Universities at Shady Grove — which, like the MCEDC and NCCoE, are HQed in Rockville —  to support students in the field and grow the area’s cyber pipeline. All in all, officials hope the collaboration can help industry leaders and government keep track of the state’s activity and bring folks together.

“There are lots of little places for people to step in and go, ‘Wow, this is cool,’ and jump from us to greatness; the great things they can do together with everybody else,” Newhouse said.

Companies: Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation / National Institute of Standards and Technology / State of Maryland

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