Mason plays a key role in the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative

Northern Virginia is considered a dynamic tech-centric ecosystem critical to the state’s economy, and George Mason University has been tapped to play a key role to ensure it remains so.

The Commonwealth’s Cyber Initiative (CCI) recognizes the state’s existing leadership position in cyber and is a signal that Virginia seeks to remain a global leader in that realm for decades to come.

“It’s a great honor for Mason to lead the Northern Virginia Regional Node,” Mason President Anne Holton said. “It is consistent with our existing strengths in cybersecurity research and education. Our ability to secure what is now known as the Internet of Things is of paramount importance, and we at Mason are delighted to be playing a part in it.”

The CCI includes four regional nodes from across the state, each led by an institution of higher education. Mason heads the Northern Virginia Regional Node, a consortium of more than 60 Northern Virginia-based universities, colleges, and private, nonprofit and government organizations all sharing a commitment to ensuring Virginia’s continuing leadership in secure cyber physical systems and the Internet of Things (IoT).

The Northern Virginia-based CCI Hub coordinates activities across the nodes. Its success will rely on the active collaboration of institutions of higher education across the Commonwealth of Virginia in contributing their experience, ideas and expertise.

“CCI came about to ensure that the commonwealth retains a leadership position in cyber innovation,” said Deborah Crawford, Mason’s vice president for research, innovation and economic impact. “We at Mason are delighted to do our part by convening and connecting our regional partners, generating exciting research breakthroughs that make their way into new products and services, and preparing the cyber innovation workforce of the future.”

Liza Wilson Durant, associate dean for strategic initiatives and community engagement and the director of the Northern Virginia Node of the CCI, welcomed the addition of a research alliance that will create a statewide cyber innovation system.

“The Northern Virginia Regional Node’s research and innovation initiatives will span a variety of focus areas that leverage the expertise of our academic institutions and informed by our government and industry partners on the front lines of implementation of novel cybersecurity technologies,” she said. “Likewise, our workforce development initiatives leverage experiential learning opportunities that help academia align knowledge acquired in the classroom with the skills and abilities required by industry and government.”

Wilson Durant lauded the network’s creation of new partnerships between academic institutions, industry, government and economic development partners that “bring a diversity of thought together as we shape our strategic initiatives.”

Mason produces more graduates in the computing fields than any other state university, so it figures to play a prominent role in that network in a tech-heavy Washington, D.C., metropolitan area that ranks as the nation’s cyber capital and offers unique cybersecurity assets and opportunities that are unmatched anywhere else.

Ten percent of the top Cybersecurity 500 global firms are concentrated in Northern Virginia. Fairfax County alone accounts for more than 350 cyber firms, ranging from startups to Fortune 500 companies.

“Ultimately,” Crawford said, “we want to do all we can to help secure the rapidly growing global IoT through cyber innovations created right here at Mason.”