2018 Archive News

Friday, April 6, 2018

The ride of your life: surviving and thriving in the startup world

The concept for his latest startup is something straight out of a superhero movie. Just like Batman used high-frequency sonar signals from millions of cell phones to visualize the location of villains throughout Gotham City in Dark Knight, entrepreneur Taj Manku is developing new software that could soon allow our cell phones to see in the dark.

The cell phone chip Manku developed to see radio frequency.

The cell phone chip Manku developed to see radio frequency.

“Our cells phones are like lightbulbs radiating radio frequency light, the problem is that our eyes can’t see the spectrum,” said Manku, who gave a lecture on the ups and downs of startup life last Tuesday as part of Cryptoworks21. “What if we could build software into every cell phone chip that could use this spectrum to see in the dark?”

Manku is no rookie to the demands of turning a big idea into a business. He created four successful startups in a row over 20 years after leaving his job as an engineering professor. He knows what it takes to not just survive, but also thrive as a startup.

“There is definitely the feeling that all the weight was on my shoulders to make it work,” he said of his early days as an entrepreneur. “I never understood what it was like to lose sleep until I became an entrepreneur.”

His first foray into the startup world was with Sirific, a company he formed in the early 2000s to meet the needs for mobile data — think back to the days of data sticks. Then came Pravala Networks, a shift away from hardware into software, which Manku says brought with it a whole different way of doing business.

“Software is a whole different ball game because everyone wants it for free,” he said. “The most important thing you can do as an entrepreneur is make sure you have a partner who shares your vision for the company, especially when working with complicated business models like software sales.”

Taj Manku

After Pravala, Manku did a stint creating and obtaining patents. But it wasn’t long before he was back at the helm of another startup, this time as CEO of Cognitive Systems Corp.

Together with his business partner, Oleksiy Kravets, Manku is paving the way for even smarter smart phones.

One day this could mean that instead of getting up to turn off the alarm on your phone in the morning, you could just wave at it in the dark to stop the buzzing. Other uses include security without cameras and home automation.

But Manku acknowledges they have a lot of work to do first to get massive deployment of the technology.

“A great idea is only 10% of being a successful entrepreneur. The other 90% is all the hard work it takes to make it real.” And that is something they don’t show in superhero movies.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Quantum-Safe Canada welcomes measures in Budget 2018 to address cyber security, including quantum safety

quantum-safe-canada-lrescale(2)OTTAWA, ON (March 1, 2018) – Proposals in the federal Budget 2018 to invest significant additional resources to ensure the security of Canada’s digital infrastructure are both timely and welcome, according to Quantum Safe Canada.

First, the Government of Canada proposes investments of $507.7 million over five years, and $108.8 million per year thereafter, to fund a new National Cyber Security Strategy, which is expected to be released within weeks.

The National Cyber Security Strategy is to focus on three principal goals: 1) Ensure secure and resilient Canadian systems; 2) Build an innovative and adaptive cyber ecosystem; and 3) Support effective leadership and collaboration between different levels of Canadian government, and partners around the world. Quantum-Safe Canada has been working alongside the Government and other key partners in identifying the necessary components of the national strategy, and looks forward to playing a meaningful role in its implementation.

Second, the Government also proposes to commit $155.2 million over five years, and $44.5 million per year ongoing, to the Communications Security Establishment to create a new Canadian Centre for Cyber Security. By consolidating operational cyber expertise from across the federal government under one roof, the new Centre will establish a single, unified Government of Canada source of unique expert advice, guidance, services and support on cyber security operational matters, providing Canadian citizens and businesses with a clear and trusted place to turn to for cyber security advice.

This approach is in accordance with the approach put forward by Quantum-Safe Canada in our discussions with federal officials over the past year. We naturally look forward to continuing this tradition of constructive engagement toward important national goals.

Third, the Government proposes to provide the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) with renewed funding of $15 million over three years to continue to undertake high-calibre quantum research. Since its inception, IQC members have conducted fundamental research, training and outreach pertinent to key elements of the Quantum-Safe Canada vision, and we are pleased to see this renewed funding.

About Quantum-Safe Canada (QSC)

Quantum-Safe Canada was established to drive the efforts necessary to prepare for and respond to the quantum threat to encryption and cybersecurity — and to grasp the opportunities that exist in properly managing that threat.  It is a not-for-profit organisation directed by a group of highly accomplished leaders from Canada’s academia, government and industry.

For additional information, please visit www.quantum-safe.ca or contact Bill Munson, Director of Research and Policy Analysis at bill.munson@quantum-safe.ca

Monday, February 12, 2018

QSC leadership hosts workshop on Standards and Standardization

Mariane 3CryptoWorks21 convened a valuable workshop on standards and standardization in the Mike & Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum Nano Centre on January 11. The workshop was intended to introduce companies and academics in the quantum / cryptography ecosystem to the pertinent features of the standards landscape. There is a growing awareness of the strategic value of standards to export-ready companies and of the need for more Canadian organizations to become engaged in standardization efforts as a means of accessing global markets.

Hosted by Dr. Michele Mosca, the workshop featured presentations by Mariane Huard, Sector Specialist with the Standards Council of Canada (SCC), and Mark Pecen, Senior Executive at ISARA Corporation and Chair of the Technical Committee Cyber working group for Quantum-Safe Cryptography (Cyber QSC) at the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).

Mariane Huard walked attendees through a helpful deck that moved from the basics of standards (which are published documents that establish specifications and procedures) and standardization (the preparation and adoption of, and conformity to, standards), to the place of standards at various points in the innovation process, to standardization trends in the ICT sector, to the numerous international standardization efforts focused specifically on quantum-safe cryptography.

Ms. Huard closed with a description of SCC’s assistance to Canadian businesses as part of its work in supporting Canada’s Innovation and Skills Plan. By working directly with Canadian innovators, SCC is providing tailored, end-to-end support to companies in developing effective standardization strategies to accelerate commercialization and remove barriers to the adoption of new Canadian technologies. Investing in standards development and conformity assessment activities is one way Canadian innovators are able to lead the creation of new markets, encourage complimentary innovation, influence future market rules and enhance market access.

Mark Pecen followed with a thought-provoking presentation titled “Standardization: A double-edged sword?” Workshop attendees heard both the positives and the negative sides of standardization; the positives, which are more obvious, include equipment interoperability, economies of scope, large-scale adoption potential and economies of scale. The negatives, which tend to be more nebulous, include the resulting constraints on future innovation because of the large ‘switching’ cost. Still, non-participation has severe consequences, including loss of industry leadership, the need to pay royalties because you weren’t at the table developing the standard, and being late to market. Mr. Pecen went on to stress the importance of government and academic participation in standardization. Having government involved will help ensure that industry standards and public policy are not in conflict. Having academics involved brings more innovations into the standardization process earlier, and also provides academics with opportunities to test their ideas in the commercial world.

Following an active Q&A session, participants were offered the opportunity to meet with Ms. Huard to learn more about SCC services in support of standards and innovation, or with IQC experts in quantum-safe cryptography.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Quantum-safe efforts supported by RBC investment in cybersecurity research

The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) is opening a cyber security lab and investing $1.78 million into research at the University of Waterloo to develop advanced cybersecurity and privacy tools, announced January 29, 2018.

Cybersecurity researchers in the David R. Cheriton School for Computer Science and the Department of Combinatorics and Optimization are the recipients of a $1.78 million investment from RBC. Among other initiatives, the funding supports Waterloo researchers and educators working in post-quantum cryptography:

  • Post-quantum cryptographic research led by David Jao. This work will focus on a unique blend of pure mathematics and computer science that produces data encryption so strong that quantum computers cannot crack it. New cryptographic standards are necessary to produce quantum-safe cryptosystems for tomorrow’s computers.
  • CryptoWorks21, an enhanced education program focused on quantum-safe cryptosystems that is led by Michele Mosca, co-founder of the Institute for Quantum Computing. RBC will sponsor the annual CryptoWorks21 Industry Day, a graduate student scholarship, a thesis prize and support for professional teaching.

Waterloo is Canada’s leader at turning information and communication technology research into innovations that create economic advantage. Waterloo has world-leading research strengths in cryptography, security, privacy enhancing technologies, human-computer interaction, algorithms, networks and distributed systems, and mathematics relevant to cryptography.

These new initiatives directly support Quantum-Safe Canada’s vision of Canada as a global leader in quantum-safe cybersecurity.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Sherry Shannon-Vanstone opened her toolbox at the CW21 Distinguished Lecture – Tools for Commercialization

Sherry final“To the man that has only a hammer, everything he encounters begins to look like a nail.” 
Abraham Maslow

Your toolbox needs more than just a hammer. Why? That’s exactly it – Why?

Sherry Shannon-Vanstone told a crowd of academics, business professionals and entrepreneurs that people don’t buy what you do, but why you do it. To explain what she meant, Shannon-Vanstone opened her toolbox and shared her tools to commercialize information technology.

The hammer Shannon-Vanstone first used was her mathematical knowledge. While the hammer pried open doors, especially as a woman in the 1980s, she quickly realized she needed another tool – the most important one – relationships. It was this tool that cultivated long relationships built on trust and loyalty that kept customers coming back.

Taking a leap, Shannon-Vanstone and her late husband Scott, a professor of mathematics at St. Jerome’s University and Waterloo’s Department of Combinatorics and Optimization, started a company that became Certicom. She changed her why to standardization and intellectual property. The company built a strategy based on the recognition that the industry required standardized protocols and that IP was a valuable commodity. When the Vanstones and their co-founders sold the company to BlackBerry, it held 400+ patents.

In 2012, the Vanstones started another company, TrustPoint Innovation Technologies. Their whys built the foundation of the company using the important tools Shannon-Vanstone had added to her toolbox. Their first project with the U.S. government for a vehicle-to-vehicle security protocol grew into a security export company based on relationships, standardization and IP.

The why continues to lead Shannon-Vanstone. Nine months ago, it led to the sale of her company to ETAS Canada (ESCRYPT), a Bosch Group company, because its why fit with her values. The Bosch Group gives back 97% of its profits to support education and hospitals, aligning with Shannon-Vanstone’s philanthropic work.

Information security is what Shannon-Vanstone has done, however it’s just an enabler to allow users to do more and do it securely. It’s not her why. Her why is what led to a successful career and successful companies.