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07 5 2016

NITEC16 recap, save the date for Ottawa

During NCI Agency's fifth annual conference, NITEC16, from 7-9 June in Tallinn, Estonia, NATO, industry and government speakers repeatedly called for partnership between NATO and industry—not just closer partnership, but better partnership.

Estonia—known for its mastery of "e-governance," its leadership of NATO's Cooperative Cyber Defence Center of Excellence, and its resilience during the 2007 cyber attacks—was a fitting location to consider the conference theme of "Building Resilience through Secure C4ISR: NATO-Industry Collaboration in a New Era."

Organized in cooperation with AFCEA and the Estonian Ministry of Defence, the event attracted more than 550 participants, including senior government, military and industry leaders, and defence and security experts. Over all three days, strong consensus emerged around the idea that the nature of cyber threats—especially their speed—creates a need for qualitatively different partnerships than in the past, marked by closer NATO-industry collaboration at early stages to solve problems and deliver solutions.

Participants heard from Estonian President H.E. Toomas Hendrik Ilves and several Estonian officials about their country's successes in the cyber sphere. Their perspectives were energizing as NATO and industry representatives worked hard during the conference to find new and better ways of working together.

New trends

The Estonian Ministry of Defence Undersecretary for Legal and Administrative Affairs Erki Kodar described the cyber sphere as both a "force multiplier" and an "equalizer" of nations that challenges conventional thinking. Business executives emphasized the need to bring the speed of acquisition processes into better alignment with the speed needed to defend against cyber threats. Dr. Katrin Suder, State Secretary in the German Federal Ministry of Defence, underscored the need to think beyond classic models of public-private partnership to tackle challenges in cyberspace.

Commander of U.S. Cyber Command Admiral Michael S. Rogers noted a new trend of government approaching the private sector with a problem to solve instead of asking for specific solutions. U.S. Department of Defense Chief Information Officer Terry Halvorsen elaborated on this theme, describing a shift from government-issued "requirements" to team-built "capabilities." He emphasized that government and industry teams need to work together from the beginning to deliver those capabilities.

NATO senior managers presented €3 billion of business opportunities in cybersecurity, cloud computing, command and control, and federated mission networking. Over 40 BOA sessions and over 220 B2B sessions, organized by AFCEA, were held. NCI Agency also took several steps to advance new forms of NATO-industry cooperation, including through two new initiatives.

NITEC16 recap, save the date for Ottawa

Making NATO stronger

In a tangible step toward connecting Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to NATO business opportunities, NCI Agency launched the Small Business Mentoring Program, with over 30 one-on-one mentoring sessions held for SMEs and start-ups run by Leidos, Symantec, BT, and AT&T. Based on the success of this program at NITEC16, NCI Agency plans to offer more SME mentoring sessions at future events and through online tools, such as interactive webinars.

In the inaugural Defence Innovation Challenge, NCI Agency recognized the top 10 innovators selected from 70 proposals from across the Alliance in the four focus areas of cyber defence, Internet of Things, military applications of Blockchains, and cognitive computing and machine learning. This initiative is aimed at accelerating transformational, state-of-the-art technology solutions from small business and academia in support of NATO C4ISR and cyber capabilities.

NCI Agency was also pleased to sign its 8th Industry Partnership Agreement with Leidos, focused on cyber information sharing.

"The ingenuity and creativity of our private sector has always been a source of NATO strength," said NCI Agency General Manager Koen Gijsbers in his closing address, "The dialogue that happens here makes NATO stronger; particularly as we translate that dialogue into action. At previous conferences we spoke about engaging more with small and medium enterprises as well as focusing on innovation, including in cyber. At this conference we delivered on those themes."

NITEC16 clearly established the need for new ways of working together to adjust to the "new normal" of constant cyber threats. The NCI Agency looks forward to building on this good work 24-26 April at NITEC17 in Ottawa, Canada. Save the date!