2 Israeli firms chosen to aid NYC in quest to be cybersecurity ‘global leader’

SOSA, which matches startups with corporations, will set up a Global Cyber Center in Chelsea; JVP will run the city’s first international cybersecurity investment hub in SoHo

Shoshanna Solomon was The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

An illustration of SOSA's Global Cyber Center for New York City (SOSA)
An illustration of SOSA's Global Cyber Center for New York City (SOSA)

As New York City launches an initiative to substantially boost its cybersecurity sector, two Israeli institutions have been selected to take part in its efforts.

New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) on Tuesday unveiled plans to set up the Cyber NYC initiative, whose aim is to transform New York City “into a global leader of cybersecurity innovation and talent to combat one of the world’s greatest threats,” according to an emailed statement.

Israeli firm SOSA and venture capital fund Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP) are among the institutions chosen to be part of the initiative, a collaboration of “world-renowned partners” that will together launch a Global Cyber Center — an innovation hub for startups — and help create new talent pipelines “to train the cyber workforce of the future,” the statement said.

“New York City needs to be ambitious about cybersecurity because our future depends on it. Cyber NYC will fuel the next generation of cybersecurity innovation and talent, leveraging one of the world’s greatest threats to create a major economic anchor and up to 10,000 quality middle-class jobs,” said NYCEDC President and CEO James Patchett. “We’ve convened a world-class roster of partners to help us execute on this essential plan, which will help protect the industries and people that make this city the economic powerhouse that it is today.”

Illustrative image of a hacker (stevanovicigor; iStock by Getty Images)

Startup hub

SOSA won the tender to establish the Global Cyber Center, a physical space that will serve as a primary hub for the city’s cyber community.

The 15,000-square foot state-of-the-art center in Chelsea “will bring together an international community of corporations, investors, startups, and talent to foster collaboration and innovation in New York City’s growing cybersecurity ecosystem,” the statement said.

Located at 17th Street and 7th Avenue, the center will offer industry-specific events as well as co-working space for startups and a “cyber-range,” a virtual testing ground to run simulations.

SOSA CEO Uzi Scheffer (Ella K. Sverdlov)

“The Global Cyber Center will serve as a center of gravity for the entire cybersecurity industry and will connect to the finest talent from New York, the States, Israel and our entire global network,” SOSA CEO Uzi Scheffer said in the statement. “SOSA has a long history of forging strong partnerships by bringing together entrepreneurs and technologies to drive solutions, and we look forward to doing the same for the cyber community as we grow our New York City presence. We will see partnerships formed, pilot projects launched and strategic investments made that will positively impact New York and the world.”

Founded in 2014 by 25 Israeli investors and high-tech entrepreneurs, SOSA has set up a global network of tech innovation hubs that aims to showcase the best of Israel’s and other global technologies and match startups with multinationals, who seek tech solutions to challenges they face. The company, with centers in Tel Aviv and New York, has access to over 8,500 startups and 150 investors, venture-capital funds and international corporations.

“The fact that two Israeli companies have been selected to be part of the initiative is a huge vote of confidence in SOSA and the Israeli tech industry,” Scheffer said in a phone interview. SOSA will “map out the needs and challenges” industries are facing and link these companies up with the best technological solutions worldwide, “with an emphasis on Israeli companies and our broad global network of innovators.”

Investment hub

JVP meanwhile, has been tasked with setting up the city’s first international cybersecurity investment hub, “and create the next billion-dollar opportunity in cybersecurity,” the statement said.

Functioning out of a 50,000-square-foot space in SoHo, which will be designed by the architectural firm behind the Apple stores, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, the hub will support growth-stage startups, help them access clients, and provide them with business support and investment, “with the goal of growing them into major cybersecurity companies in New York City,” the statement said. The center will also serve as a headquarters for JVP’s portfolio companies and activities in the US, JVP said in a separate statement.

High-tech entrepreneur and former Knesset member Erel Margalit speaking at the 2018 Cybertech conference in Tel Aviv; Jan 31, 2018 (Dror Sithakol Photography)

“We’re convinced that New York City, the world capital of finance and media, will soon emerge as the new global hub for cybersecurity,” said Erel Margalit, founder and chairman of JVP, in the statement. “If the West Coast is the US technology hub, New York can become the international technology hub in close partnership with Israel and the international community to build the next generation of cybersecurity companies to counter the new threats.”

Founded in 1993 by Margalit, JVP has raised over $1.3 billion helping finance over 130 companies to date, in Israel, the US, Europe and Asia. Since 1999, JVP has invested in more than 20 cyber companies and has played an active role in a number of high-profile exits and IPOs, including CyberArk’s IPO, Paypal’s acquisition of Cyactive, Salesforce’s acquisition of Navajo, F5’s acquisition of Magnifire and Huawei’s acquisition of Hexatier. JVP has also set up Israel’s first cybersecurity center of excellence in Beersheba — JVP Cyber Labs, one of the largest investment platforms in cyber companies in Israel.

The initiative comes as cybersecurity attacks are growing globally both in number and intensity and as companies and people become more vulnerable to attacks as they connect more and more to the internet. Cybersecurity attacks occur every 40 seconds across the globe, with over 3.8 billion internet users having been affected by cyberattacks in 2017, the statement said. “This extreme threat has created a growing demand for new products and cybersecurity talent. The cybersecurity talent gap will grow to an estimated 3.5 million unfilled jobs by 2021,” it said, based on data compiled by Cybersecurity Ventures.

Academia enlisted as well

Columbia University has been chosen by NYCEDC to “connect academic inventors of patented cybersecurity technologies with experienced entrepreneurial talent to launch new cybersecurity startups, accelerating innovation and commercialization.” The university will also provide mentorships, training, and validation capital to help set up more and stronger early-stage academic startups as quickly as possible, the statement said.

“Columbia University has a long and successful track record of translating its inventions into products and services that improve lives, create jobs, and benefit society,” said Orin Herskowitz, executive director of Columbia Technology Ventures. “Last year alone, 28 startup companies were formed based on research emerging from Columbia’s labs across fields such as cybersecurity, machine learning, photonics, media, biotechnology, medical devices, 4 tissue engineering, and more. We look forward to collaborating with CUNY, Cornell Tech, and NYU to help launch more and stronger cybersecurity startups, faster than ever, based on these university innovations.”

An illustration of Jerusalem Venture Partner’s cybersecurity hub in New York City’s SoHo (JVP)

NYCEDC has also selected City University of New York (CUNY), New York University, Columbia University, Cornell Tech, and iQ4 “to train the next generation of cyber specialists” through new certifications and degree programs for New Yorkers, the statement said. Software development school Fullstack Academy has been chosen to run a boot camp in cybersecurity, and CUNY’s LaGuardia Community College, which has one of the largest tech training programs in the region, will run a six-week preparatory course for adults with minimal familiarity with cybersecurity, for them to learn the basics of industry software and terminology, before continuing onto the Fullstack boot camp.

“The Cyber Boot Camp will place over 1,000 students in jobs that have an average starting salary of $65,000 over the first three years of the program,” the statement said.

New York City Economic Development Corporation is tasked with promoting economic growth in each of the five boroughs by setting up programs that encourage investment and strengthen the city’s competitive position. The corporation last year launched an effort to position New York City as a global leader in cybersecurity jobs and innovation. The effort is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Cyber NYC initiative, which hopes to bring about the growth of New York City’s cybersecurity industry, and is a key component of his New York Works plan to create 100,000 “good paying” jobs over the next ten years.

The city’s current cybersecurity industry has over 100 firms and 6,000 employees. In 2017 alone, the city received over $1 billion in cybersecurity-related venture capital funding.

Partners in the initiative include Goldman Sachs, whose officials will serve on Cyber NYC’s key advisory boards, advising on the overall direction of the initiative; PricewaterhouseCoopers, which has committed to hiring students from Cyber NYC’s talent programs; MasterCard, which has committed to be a partner of the Cyber Boot Camp and to hire graduates of the program; Facebook, which will co-develop a new master’s degree program with CUNY; and edX.org.

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