The Commonwealth Cyber Initiative Executive Committee held its first meeting last week – an important step in a collaborative effort to create and submit a blueprint for the project to the Virginia Research Investment Committee by Dec. 1.

The 2018-20 Virginia budget included $25 million for CCI, which will leverage public institutions of higher education to build an engine for research, innovation, and commercialization of cybersecurity technologies; and address the commonwealth's need for growth of advanced and professional degrees within the cyber workforce.

The executive committee met Aug. 28 at Virginia Tech’s Arlington Research Center to talk about progress and next steps for the CCI blueprint development. The group is chaired by Theresa Mayer, Virginia Tech’s vice president for Research and Innovation, and also includes Charles Clancy, director of Virginia Tech’s Hume Center for National Security and Technology.

The executive committee members are collaborating with a diverse coalition of stakeholders on the Blueprint Advisory Council, which invited nominees from public institutions of higher education across the commonwealth, as well as key stakeholders from government and industry. The advisory council serves as a sounding board and resource, receiving updates on the blueprint, providing feedback, and serving as a primary point of contact for the institution or company the member represents.

The following Blueprint Advisory Council members were nominated by their institutions. (Members of the Executive Committee are denoted with an asterisk.)

  • Sanju Bansal*, Chief Executive Officer, Hunch Analytics
  • Greg Baroni, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Attain LLC
  • Paul Barrett, Professor and former Dean, College of Business and Economics, Longwood University
  • Scott Bevins, Associate Provost for Information Services, UVA Wise
  • Peter Blake, Director, State Council of Higher Education for Virginia
  • Rodney Blevins*, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Dominion Energy
  • Richard Clarke, Chief Executive Officer, Good Harbor Security Risk Management
  • Jamie Camp, Director of Grants and Partnerships, Richard Bland College
  • Deborah Crawford*, Vice President for Research, George Mason University
  • James W. Dyke Jr.*, Member, Virginia Research Investment Committee and Member, GoVirginia and Senior Advisor, Virginia State Government Relations, McGuireWoods Consulting 
  • Tracy Gregorio*, President, G2 Ops, Inc
  • Megan Healy, Chief Workforce Development Advisor to Governor Ralph Northam
  • Richa Kaul, Managing Director of Technology, Virginia Economic Development Partnership
  • Bobbie Kilberg*, President & Chief Executive Officer, Northern Virginia Technology Council
  • Robert M. Lewis, Chair, Department of Computer Science, William and Mary
  • Henry Light, Council Secretary, State Council of Higher Education for Virginia
  • Keith Mellinger, Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, University of Mary Washington
  • Brian K. Payne*, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Old Dominion University
  • Jeff Pittges, Associate Professor in the Department of Information Technology, Radford University
  • Scott Ralls*, President, Northern Virginia Community College
  • Melur Ramasubramanian*, Vice President for Research, University of Virginia
  • Anton Riedl, Chair, Department of Physics, Computer Science and Engineering, Christopher Newport University
  • John Savage, Director of Cyber Security Innovation, Virginia Community College System
  • Lynn Seuffert, Associate for Research Investment, State Council of Higher Education for Virginia
  • Sharon Simmons*, Department Head, Computer Science, James Madison University
  • Todd Stottlemyer*, Chief Executive Officer, Inova Center for Personalized Health
  • Erdem Topsakal*, Chair, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Dale Wesson, Vice President for Research and Economic Development, Virginia State University
  • Aurelia T. Williams, Director, Cybersecurity Complex, Norfolk State University
  • John Wood*, Chairman and CEO, Telos 

To develop the CCI Blueprint, Virginia Tech has asked members to nominate subject matter experts to participate in four working groups, which include more than 50 people from public institutes of higher education, industry, and government. Each of the following groups is co-chaired by a member of the Executive Committee and a representative from Virginia Tech:

  • Research and Technology Commercialization; 
  • Educational Programs and Experiential Learning; 
  • Partnerships and Investment; 
  • Finance and Government Relations. 

An advisory council retreat is scheduled for later this month.

The CCI Blueprint development is closely coordinated with the Virginia Research Investment Committee, established by the General Assembly as a part of the GO Virginia Initiative to position Virginia as a national leader in science-based and technology-based research. Several participants in the CCI Advisory Council are also members of VRIC and progress on the CCI Blueprint is regularly reported to VRIC at committee meetings.

The initiative calls for a primary “hub” to be located in Northern Virginia and a network of “spoke” sites across the commonwealth with collaborating universities in Virginia and industry partners.

The state asked Virginia Tech to anchor the CCI hub because of the university’s strengths in science and engineering, existing expertise in cybersecurity research and education, and its significant research presence in Northern Virginia.

Virginia Tech will issue the blueprint to the Virginia Research Investment Committee by Dec. 1 to outline how the program will work and what the next steps will be. The budget dedicates up to $10 million to establish the hub, anchored by Virginia Tech, including funds for facilities, equipment, student engagement, entrepreneurship programs and internships, and research faculty.

An additional $10 million will be available to public universities and colleges across the state to apply for matching funds to recruit faculty to Virginia, as the initiative helps build capabilities at the hub and various spokes across the commonwealth. In addition, $5 million in capital funding will be used for renovations, space enhancements, and equipment.