Ottawa must leverage Canadian innovators in their national cyber strategy

By Nick Schiavo, CCI’s Director of Federal Affairs

CCI was happy to partner with the federal government on the State of Canada’s Cybersecurity Industry Report, because it’s vitally important for policymakers and Canadians at large have an accurate snapshot of how this industry is doing.

Released this week, the report puts numbers to some trends that many people who follow the tech sector will already feel intuitively. As we spend more of our lives online, and the digital landscape is more complex and dynamic, the cybersecurity sector is booming.

The State of Canada’s Cybersecurity Industry report finds that the cyber sector is growing faster than the overall tech sector — at a rate of roughly 3–1 on revenues, employment, R&D and exports.

Moreover the cybersecurity industry conducts research and development at a rate more than double the overall tech sector.

This report is well-timed, as the government has started work on developing the next 5-year National Cyber Security Strategy and Canadians are becoming increasingly worried about being the victim of a cybercrime.

The next National Cyber Security Strategy is our chance to write a blueprint that to get “cyber right” in Canada. We need to support Canadian scale-ups who are developing the next generation of technology to keep us safe, protect our sovereignty and grow our economy.

The strategy should lead with an economic lens, to ensure that Canada has the private sector capabilities to protect businesses and institutions from cyber-attacks. In the wake of COVID-19, we have seen the risk of having weak value chains, and the impact they have on our entire economy. Going forward we can defend our national security and our prosperity if we lead with innovation.

In August, CCI released its cyber policy brief with five key recommendations to improve Canada’s cyber preparedness with the government. You can read the full policy brief here, which outlines how we are calling on the federal government’s cyber strategy to direct Canada’s security agencies to:

1. Develop an innovation-economic lens to build cyber sector resilience;

2. Create a trusted domestic partners list that leverages Canadian cyber expertise;

3. Launch a dedicated cyber testing stream to co-develop and validate cyber solutions;

4. Address Canada’s skilled cyber talent shortage through the development of new streams; and

5. Foster greater collaboration with Canada’s world-class cyber companies, stakeholders, and other levels of government.

Canada’s most recent cyber strategy overlooked the economic and security benefits of partnering with domestic cyber innovators to protect our governments, businesses and citizens. The next five-year plan must ensure Canada’s high-growth cyber firms are active partners in securing Canada’s national security and economic prosperity.

Nick Schiavo leads CCI’s federal advocacy. If you’re interested in learning more about our public policy work in Ottawa, you can contact him at nschiavo@canadianinnovators.org.

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Council of Canadian Innovators

CCI is Canada’s 21st century business council, advocating for our country’s high-growth, innovative companies. Visit CanadianInnovators.org to learn more.