Waterloo partnership launches cybersecurity platform in Singapore

Friday, October 9, 2020

The University hopes to introduce a similar initiative in Canada to support cybersecurity workforce

The University of Waterloo, in partnership with several stakeholders, has launched a new platform in Singapore to help address a cybersecurity workforce skills gap in the region.

The new platform — @-Wise Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence — was co-founded with four partners: the Singapore FinTech Association, AMTD Foundation, AMTD Digital and iQ4, a workforce and mobility platform.

“Waterloo wants to support the workforce in the area of skills development, upskilling, training and retraining in particular disciplines and cybersecurity is a natural area for us,” Sanjeev Gill, Waterloo’s associate vice-president, innovation, says.

The five parties recently signed a memorandum of understanding to establish the centre in Singapore, one of Asia’s major financial hubs. The knowledge adviser is Ernst & Young Advisory, while supporting organizations include Cyberport, AMTD Foundation and Infinity Power.

The centre, which is the brainchild of Calvin Choi (BA ’01), AMTD’s chairman and CEO and a Waterloo accounting alumnus, will develop cybersecurity talent, build a cybersecurity ecosystem and raise awareness of the importance of cybersecurity among fintechs, financial institutions and other sectors in Singapore. 

“When Calvin approached Waterloo at the start of this year, we realized what he was proposing in Singapore was very much aligned with what we as a university wanted to create,” Gill says.

Waterloo through its Cybersecurity and Privacy Institute (CPI), in conjunction with the Faculty of Mathematics, will support the center of excellence by developing cybersecurity courses for midcareer professionals.

“The Faculty of Mathematics and its partners in Waterloo’s Cybersecurity and Privacy Institute (CPI) are keen to accelerate the development of a next-generation cybersecurity workforce,” Mark Giesbrecht, dean of the Faculty of Mathematics, says. 

“The cybersecurity skills gap is a huge problem, not only for Singapore but also for Canada and many other developed nations,” Giesbrecht says. “Along with AI, data science and financial technologies, many of the current computer science jobs are offered in cybersecurity, and skills are very much in high demand.”

In addition, the @-Wise Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence plans to stage an annual cybersecurity summit to organize seminars and roundtable discussions among industry leaders in Singapore and provide cyber-risk mitigation products and strategies. 

Additionally, there are plans to foster a start-up ecosystem in the cybersecurity domain and deepen connections across organizations and industries.

“All CPI members and partners will benefit from this collaboration,” says Florian Kerschbaum, CPI executive director and professor in the Faculty of Mathematics. “The University of Waterloo is a world-leading university in cybersecurity and privacy and combines active research and education in many fields. Our experience in co-op with its focus on industry needs will help reduce the cybersecurity skills gap in Singapore.” 

Waterloo is also keen to support lifelong learning for Canadians and the hope is that this initiative in Singapore will act as a catalyst for the development of training for the workforce around cybersecurity and other areas locally. 

“In accordance with our University 2020 strategic plan, we are creating a lifelong learning unit at Waterloo that will support professional workers as they go through their career path,” Sanjeev says. “With the work being done in Singapore, we are going to be able to establish know-how in how to do this effectively in a different marketplace so that we can be that much more impactful in what we’re currently looking to develop for Canada’s workforce.”