Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards welcomed Israel-based Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. to Louisiana, where the company will pursue a cybersecurity partnership with Stephenson Technologies Corporation, LSU’s applied research corporation serving U.S. federal markets.

Gov. Edwards met with Check Point officials in October 2018 during an economic development mission to Israel. That exchange laid the groundwork for the new partnership to build on cybersecurity initiatives at LSU. Check Point is an international network security vendor with 4,300 employees who protect over 100,000 global businesses and organizations from cyber attacks.

The company will work with Stephenson Technologies Corp. to commission the partnership’s Innovation and Integration Lab, dedicated to developing next-generation cybersecurity solutions for industry and government clients. The partnership agreement was signed by Julie Mitchell, Check Point strategic account manager, and Jeff Moulton, president of Stephenson Technologies Corp.

“I am happy to welcome Check Point Software Technologies to Louisiana as we continue to expand our role as a U.S. leader in cybersecurity innovation,” Gov. Edwards said. “Cyber threats are always evolving, and new partnerships such as this one with Stephenson Technologies Corp. at LSU represent a critical effort for protecting vital assets, both public and private. This agreement is a direct result of our meeting with Check Point officials in Tel Aviv during our trade mission to Israel last fall. We look forward to a rewarding relationship that will build Louisiana’s strength and leadership in cybersecurity.”

One element of the new partnership is designed to develop cybersecurity training scenarios at the Joint Cyber Training Lab in LSU Innovation Park, with the LSU-based team integrating, customizing and testing a variety of Check Point products and technologies. The Joint Cyber Training Lab has worked extensively with the Louisiana National Guard’s cybersecurity specialists and has led the Cyber Shield training exercise involving National Guard cybersecurity teams from all 50 states.

The governor established the Louisiana Cybersecurity Commission in 2017. Two of its leaders – Moulton and Maj. Gen. Glenn Curtis of the Louisiana National Guard – accompanied the governor to Israel last fall and took part in cybersecurity discussions there. Israel attracted $815 million in cyber venture capital in 2017, with the nation cultivating 143 cybersecurity startups in the past two years and shipping as much as $6.5 billion in annual cybersecurity exports.

“The evolving challenges we face in cybersecurity – particularly around critical infrastructure and resilience – need new ways of thinking, and we’re excited about working with a company of Check Point’s technical caliber to develop new technologies,” Moulton said. “Check Point’s decision to join us in building an Innovation and Integration Lab underscores the importance of these challenges, affirms STC’s deep cyber capabilities, and underscores the importance of Gov. Edwards’ focus on cybersecurity and his ability to build relationships internationally.”

Prior to Tuesday’s signing ceremony, as part of the Stephenson Technologies Corp. work to support the U.S. Department of Defense and the Louisiana National Guard in research and development around critical infrastructure challenges, Gov. Edwards and other guests viewed a demonstration that included a cyber-based attack at LSU’s Fire & Emergency Training Institute. Tour participants included LSU President F. King Alexander, Maj. Gen. Curtis, Check Point officials Julie Mitchell and Razi Mukatren, and several others.

Gov. Edwards serves as co-chairman of the Resource Center for State Cybersecurity within the National Governors Association, or NGA. In May 2019, he will bring private sector leaders in the cybersecurity industry; educators, researchers and students; and the gubernatorial administrations of all 50 states to a cybersecurity event in Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana, home of the 3,000-acre National Cyber Research Park.

Louisiana has pursued an aggressive software and IT sector strategy during the past decade, a period that has seen the state invest over $200 million in higher education STEM initiatives, from cybersecurity to advanced manufacturing, with over 20,000 new direct and indirect jobs resulting from the effort. Two-thirds of those jobs are associated with university partnerships with CenturyLink, GE Digital, IBM, General Dynamics Information Technology, CGI, EA and DXC Technology. Advanced manufacturing partnerships with such companies as Sasol, Benteler Steel/Tube and Boeing have generated a third of the technology jobs associated with higher education initiatives.