Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Stephenson Technologies Corp., LSU’s applied research center, has secured a $10 million federal contract to strengthen the cybersecurity of small businesses that work with manufacturers in Louisiana. The award comes from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Air Force Research Laboratory.
Through the project, the LSU research center will establish best practices in protecting small businesses from cybercrime, particularly firms that supply, support and interact with major manufacturing operations in Louisiana. LSU’s Stephenson Technologies Corp. will create a Small Business Cybersecurity Operations Center that also will develop next-generation talent in cybersecurity. Goals include equipping small businesses with advanced cybersecurity tools normally accessible only to large industries.
Gov. Edwards issued an executive order in 2017 establishing a Louisiana Cybersecurity Commission to advance the State’s cyber ecosystem and position Louisiana as a national leader and preferred location for cyber business, education and research. He currently serves as co-chair of the Resource Center for State Cybersecurity for the National Governors Association.
“LSU’s Stephenson Technologies Corporation demonstrates what we can achieve when we capitalize on our expertise and apply our research capabilities to real-world challenges that impact us every day,” Gov. Edwards said. “Whether we’re talking about the energy, chemical or maritime sectors, Louisiana plays a critical role in the nation’s economy. What we do here has an impact, and that’s why leading the country in cybersecurity is a priority. Through this major defense contract, our small businesses now have an ally in that fight, and we can provide real solutions to develop the cyber workforce of tomorrow.”
In 2016, LSU established Stephenson Technologies Corp., or STC, as a contractual entity to secure federal awards in defense, homeland security, intelligence and related research. STC emerged from LSU’s Transformational Technologies & Cyber Research Center, or TTCRC, with Louisiana Economic Development and LSU offering additional performance-based funds on a matching basis. Through 2020, LED will match $1 for each $10 in research funding attracted by the LSU applied research centers, while LSU will match $0.50 for each $10 in research funding. The matches continue until STC and TTCRC reach $30 million in self-sustaining applied research capital.
LSU President F. King Alexander said, “As the state’s flagship university, LSU’s core mission is developing future leaders as well as scientific and technological solutions that will both create and ensure the economy of the future. STC’s award underscores the importance of LSU’s approach and capabilities, and strengthens the university’s growing national reputation as a trusted source of cybersecurity expertise, and an innovative leader in solutions for business and government.”
Jeff Moulton, president and CEO of LSU’s Stephenson Technologies Corp., said the Small Business Cybersecurity Operations Center will change the paradigm that cybersecurity is chiefly the province of large operations.
“Despite small businesses being the core of the economy, they don’t have the expertise and don’t get the same attention from a cybersecurity perspective as large infrastructure,” said Moulton, who also directs LSU’s Transformational Technologies & Cyber Research Center. The new LSU operations center funded by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, he said, will offer small businesses “tools they can trust, understand and use to protect themselves and their livelihoods.”
Additionally, Moulton said the Small Business Cybersecurity Operations Center will provide students “the best classroom we can imagine: They’ll have the opportunity to take on challenges that have real impact to their community.”
For the cybersecurity project, the Stephenson Technologies Corp. will work with Huntsville, Alabama-based Radiance Technologies, a $120 million U.S. Department of Defense contractor that recently opened an office at the Louisiana Emerging Technology Center on LSU’s Baton Rouge campus. Heath Berry, assistant vice president for the company’s Cyber Solutions Group, will lead the effort for Radiance.
“This effort is a key part of the Cyber Solutions Group’s strategic vision for providing protection to the nation’s key critical infrastructure assets,” Berry said. “Radiance is excited to continue growing our presence in Louisiana, continue the partnership with LSU and STC, and continue providing cyber technologies to the Air Force Research Laboratory.”
Radiance recently won the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory’s Agile Cyber Technology 2, or ACT 2, contract. ACT 2 is a five-year, potential $950 million mission to research, develop and integrate cyber solutions to address emerging requirements for the Air Force and its mission partners.