Article originally published by Ian Bushnell on RiotACT.com.

A new Canberra Cyber Hub will aim to foster the ACT’s burgeoning tech start-ups and capitalise on one of the fastest-growing sectors in Australia.

The ACT Government will spend $700,000 to establish the Hub, to be led by former Rector of UNSW Canberra Dr Michael Frater, and position Canberra as the cyber capital of Australia.

The initial $700,000 investment will go towards funding the Canberra Innovation Network to accelerate the growth of small and medium enterprises, developing an ‘education portal’ to help students and businesses navigate education pathways in Canberra, and promoting Canberra’s cybersecurity capabilities.

The Hub project will focus on four key objectives: growing Canberra’s cybersecurity education pathways, accelerating SMEs to grow connections and attract investment, promoting the ACT’s research capabilities, and showcasing Canberra’s cybersecurity capabilities.

Assistant Minister for Economic Development Tara Cheyne said that by 2024, Australia’s cybersecurity spending was expected to grow by 35 per cent to $7.6 billion, creating around 7,000 additional cybersecurity jobs.

“Canberra is well-placed to be a leader in cybersecurity due to our high concentration of cybersecurity stakeholders, established education and research capabilities, highly skilled workforce, collaborative business community and close proximity to government,” she said.

“The Canberra Cyber Hub will harness Canberra’s unique cyber capabilities to create more jobs and further diversify the ACT economy.”

Ms Cheyne said the government wanted the Canberra Cyber Hub to be co-designed and industry-led, and Dr Frater would be working with key stakeholders to develop its design and function.

Dr Frater said the Canberra Cyber Hub would advance and showcase the ACT’s expertise in the sector.

“With the Commonwealth Government due to spend $1.67 billion on cybersecurity over the next decade, our proximity to government puts us in a competitive position to be able to capitalise on this investment through better collaboration and capacity-building,” he said.

“The Canberra Cyber Hub will aim to build our skilled workforce through education, helping start-ups and other businesses attract investment, showcase our research capabilities and cement Canberra as a key player in the national and international cybersecurity landscape.”

Canberra Innovation Network CEO Petr Adamek said the establishment of the Hub was a significant announcement for Canberra, which had real potential to be a significant player, not just in the region, but globally as well.

“The ACT Government is backing our city’s world-class capability, capacity and growing reputation in cybersecurity as one of the key sectors of our innovation-based economy,” he said.

“This investment will help coordinate, grow and promote the sector including connecting the education and research infrastructure and activities with the growth ambitions of our cyber security SMEs and startups.”

Mr Adamek said the sector was booming and the number of firms was growing rapidly, with dozens of cybersecurity companies in the pipeline at the Canberra Innovation Network alone.

“A number of information and communication technology companies and companies from related industries are refocusing to service the increasing demand for cybersecurity solutions,” he said.

“Cybersecurity is a crosscutting theme — it’s not just software and hardware, but also skills, education, research, testing, analytics, consulting, and related fields, such as psychology.

Mr Adamek said Canberra had a high concentration of research and education activity, as well as significant and sophisticated customers who are leading the way in cybersecurity investments.

Its size was an advantage, allowing intensive, close interactions within the industry itself, as well as within the education and research sectors.

“This is critically important for the innovation activity that underpins future growth of the sector. Similar new industries have depended heavily on the growth that can only come from the confluence of venture capital and international customers today’s announcement highlights,” he said.

The national capital has been the target of cyber attacks in recent years, most notably the ANU, and cyber espionage is on the rise around the world.