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Defence partners with Sydney Uni to enhance cyber innovation

The Defence Chief Information Officer Group and the University of Sydney have collaborated to support the development of key cyber security capability.

user iconStephen Kuper
Wed, 10 Oct 2018
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USYD approached the Department of Defence Chief Information Officer Group (CIOG) in February 2018 because employers, and graduates, increasingly regard 'cyber awareness' as a core capability that leaders must possess.

The university was of the view that few organisations understand the cyber threat better than the Department of Defence. In July 2018, USYD secured an industry partnership with the Department of Defence, CIOG for the MBA Capstone Unit of study.

In this unit of study titled SMBA6201 'Business Capstone: Lean Design', the Business School partners with industry to solve real world problems. The unit is centered on a new applied science – design strategy – that has been developed by associate professor Eric Knight, Christopher Murphy and Jarryd Daymond.


As part of the course completion, students are required to complete a Capstone Unit, which requires an industry partner provide a problem statement, in response students are required to design a strategy methodology to develop a customer-centric product and service.

The Defence ICT Innovation Directorate provided a problem definition statement related to cyber security awareness, and how every employee has a role to play in maintaining cyber security in high-risk, sensitive areas, and were so impressed by the outcome that they provided continued financial sponsorship to help further develop the concept.

The MBA candidates then used design strategy principals to build real life product prototypes aimed at enhancing the cyber literacy of the Department of Defence workforce.

Assistant director, innovation, CIOG, David McKenna explained the importance of this burgeoning industry collaboration, saying, "By becoming the industry partner for the University of Sydney MBA program the Defence ICT Innovation Directorate was able to work with 30 senior executives, using a design strategy framework, to close a real capability gap."

The collaboration with the Department of Defence is one of many industry partnerships developed by the University of Sydney, with other partnerships, including: Swiss Re, UBank and Optus.

The Incyte team, made up of students undertaking the Capstone course was formed following the completion of the University of Sydney Business School's Design Strategy Unit, where for the first time the Department of Defence was a partner. The Department of Defence tasked students with developing a tool, which is scalable, to combat the ever-increasing cyber threat that pervades globally and to encourage its workforce to learn more about the benefits of machine learning.

Chief Operations Officer of Incyte, Jodi Cantafio said, "The team found working with both the Department of Defence an enjoyable and unique experience. Enjoyable because Defence acknowledged the need for students to think of innovative solutions to combat an increasing level of Cyber threat in the workplace, meanwhile encouraging 'blue sky' thinking to address this vexing problem.

"It was also unique for the team because most of us have had very little exposure to the the Department of Defence. We enjoyed the challenge of developing a product that accommodated the unique needs of Defence, being something that is scaleable, adaptable to different working environments and one which places Defence's values at its core," Cantafio explained.

Defence approved the low-fidelity prototype and have been supportive through providing Incyte with seed funding to develop the product to bring it to MVP stage, backing Incyte as a partner for further external funding opportunities and are also assisting Incyte to navigate the somewhat large and complex (and potentially overwhelming) Defence network.

"The team's low-fidelity prototype was borne out of a 'design thinking' exercise and so it was imperative to collect as many different insights and opinions as possible. The team collectively conducted over 200 interviews with both defence and non-defence personnel to test and validate the low fidelity prototype. The Department of Defence was supportive in this process by providing students with personnel to contact and interview. Defence also encouraged students to leverage their contacts within both the private sector as well as other government departments, to gain a wider range of insights and perspectives," Chief Technology Officer, Derek Taprell said.

CIOG within the Department of Defence leads the integrated design, cost effective delivery and sustained operation of Defence’s Single Information Environment (SIE) to support military and business operations.

The SIE encompasses the information, computing and communications infrastructure of the Department of Defence along with the management systems and people that deliver that infrastructure. It includes Defence’s information assets, computing networks, business applications and the data that they generate and carry. It includes the communication standards and spectrum required for battle-space networks.

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