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Milan hosts Cisco’s first European security innovation unit

Cisco has cut the ribbon on its first Cyber Security Co-Innovation Centre in Europe, at Milan’s Leonardo da Vinci Science and Technology Museum

Cisco has opened its first Cyber Security Co-Innovation Centre in Europe, focusing on research and development (R&D) around security and privacy issues such as supply chain security, the internet of things (IoT), securing digital public services, and critical national infrastructure including 5G.

Located at Milan’s Leonardo da Vinci Museum of Science and Technology, the centre was inaugurated by Italy’s minister for technological innovation and digitisation, Paolo Pisano, and other dignitaries alongside Cisco Italy CEO Agostino Santoni; Cisco vice-president of government affairs for Europe, Pastora Valero; and chairman and CEO Chuck Robbins.

“Cisco is compelled to help our customers, partners, governments and all citizens to digitise securely,” said Valero.

“Our first cyber security co-innovation centre in Europe will enable more research, foster greater innovation and build capacity to create solutions for the most pressing societal security challenges, such as the security, resiliency and privacy of critical infrastructure, which are at the core of secure digitisation.

“We know this is a priority in Europe and we are delighted to have opened this space alongside the Italian government that will see the benefits extend across the whole region,” she added.

Cisco said its partnership with the Italian government stemmed from a collaboration that began during the Expo Milan fair in 2015, when its security teams helped to block more than 500,000 attempted cyber attacks aimed at the high-profile event. This resulted in several other initiatives, such as smart city and urban security project Safer Milan.

Part of a global network of Co-Innovation Centres operated by Cisco – six of them in Europe – the new facility will serve as a hub for innovation, linking customer, partner, start-up, accelerator, government, academic and research communities.

It supports the European Commission (EC) and Parliament’s aims to “create a more secure future for citizens across the region”, and will be funded through investments out of Cisco’s Country Digital Acceleration (CDA) programme, a global initiative the advance national digital agendas through collaboration with national, state and local governments.

Cisco has run around 250 projects in Europe under the CDA programme to date and has been working alongside the Italian government since 2016.

In the UK, the CDA initiative has ploughed well over $1bn (£760m) into various projects in the past decade, with many of its projects supporting some of the “grand challenges” identified in the government’s Industrial Strategy.

These include investments in enhanced networking and communications technology for the UK’s rail network, a post-startup accelerator hub co-hosted at the University of Manchester, and one of the world’s largest artificial intelligence research centres, which is based at University College London (UCL).

Besides its investments in the Milan Co-Innovation Centre, Cisco has also been heavily investing in the European cyber security scene through supporting security education and digital skills training.

Since 2010, it claims, almost 145,000 students in the European Union (EU) have taken cyber security courses through the Cisco Networking Academy. This includes 43,860 during its financial 2019.

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