One year after France’s cybersecurity strategy launch, the Cyber Campus opened its doors on Tuesday (15 February). It aims to become an innovation hotspot to improve the country’s resilience and accelerate its ecosystem. EURACTIV France reports.
As the number of cyberattacks exploded in recent years, especially since the pandemic, the time has now come for cooperation in France’s cybersecurity field.
Private companies, public bodies, and government departments will join forces in the new “Cyber Campus”, positioned as “the spearhead” of the country’s cybersecurity strategy.
“Digital technology brings hope and a future, but it also brings threats. In the face of these threats, the state is raising its shields to protect its citizens, its businesses and its public services,” said Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire at the opening.
It “will also be a place of concentration, programmes and very operational partnership projects, particularly in the area of operational monitoring”, the Elysée Palace told journalists, adding that it will also be a “place for professional skills development” and “for developing awareness and educational elements for the general public”.
The campus is located in the thirteen-storey high Eria Tower, in the capital’s business district. Some 26,000 square metres will host large groups like Orange, Capgemini, Thalès and Atos, start-ups from the cyber ecosystem, and several training and research organisations.
This “place of excellence” will also house members of the National Agency for Information Systems Security (ANSSI) and services from the armed forces, interior, education, youth and sports ministries.
Many other large companies known as “solution buyers” like Sanofi and SNCF have joined the initiative, though they will not be on-site members.
In the future, territorial branches will also be set up. The Hauts-de-France, Pays de la Loire and Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes regions have expressed interest in participating in the initiative the Elysée said.
Michel Van Den Berghe, the former CEO of Orange Cyberdefense, will be at the helm of this simplified joint-stock company (SAS), 56% of which is owned by private shareholders, most of whom are members of the campus.
“The share of the State and the public sector is significant [44%], but the President of the Republic was keen for it to be a predominantly private shareholding”, his advisers stressed.
National cyber strategy
French President Emmanuel Macron presented France’s cybersecurity strategy in February 2021, which according to him, is a priority.
A total of €1 billion, including €720 million in public funding, will be invested to triple the industry’s turnover from €7.3 billion to €25 billion, double the number of jobs in the sector from 37,000 to 75,000 and create three French cybersecurity unicorns, the government announced.
“Between 2017 and 2021, 200 people will be recruited within the ANSSI, and this should continue in the months and years to come, given the stakes,” the Elysée pointed out. Meanwhile, as part of the French recovery plan, ANSSI has also obtained €136 million to strengthen the state and regions’ cybersecurity systems from 2021 to 2022.
The massive France 2030 investment plan will also provide €140 million to meet training needs.
More recently, during a trip to Nice in early January, Macron announced that he wanted to recruit 1,500 “cyber patrolmen” to strengthen the cyber workforce within the police. He also said he wanted to introduce the digital equivalent of the emergency police telephone number to report cyberattacks.
[Edited by Luca Bertuzzi/ Alice Taylor]