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Eva Michely

Research, Change and Vision: 5,000 visitors attend "CISPA❤️IGB"

With the research festival "CISPA❤️IGB", the CISPA Helmholtz Center for Information Security presented itself to the interested public. Last Saturday, 5,000 citizens accepted the invitation to the Industriekathedrale Alte Schmelz in St. Ingbert and experienced current research topics in cyber security and artificial intelligence first hand. In his speech, CISPA CEO and founding director Professor Dr. Dr. h. c. Michael Backes presented his vision for the research center as a driving force for structural change in the Saarland. In addition, the launch of the CISPA Venture Capital Fund, which has been set up to support innovative startups, was celebrated.

Last Saturday, citizens of all ages had the opportunity to gain insights into the research and scientific transfer carried out at CISPA. In four open workshops, CISPA researchers explained topics relevant to everyday life from the fields of web security, data protection and artificial intelligence (AI). The interactive exhibits of the "CISPA Cysec Lab" introduced younger visitors to the topic of information security. In addition to these research-related information offerings, the event program included a wide variety of entertainment for all age groups. The event kicked off at 2 p.m. with a performance by the Bergkapelle St. Ingbert; a highlight for children was the "1, 2 or 3 Show" with Piet Flosse on the outdoor stage.

 CISPA-Vision: Achieving Structural Change in Saarland

At the heart of the event was the CISPA Vision at 4:00 pm. The official ceremony included addresses by high-profile guests, including Minister President Anke Rehlinger, Lord Mayor Professor Dr. Ulli Meyer and digital expert Dr. Thomas Sattelberger. In her speech, the Minister President underlined the contribution that CISPA is making to structural change in Saarland: "Today is a good day for Saarland and for CISPA: As a supporting pillar of Saarland's innovation and technology transfer, it will continue to shine as a beacon for the Saarland's IT and AI sector. To this end, the state government is investing many millions to create space for even more scientists than is already the case today. Because one thing is clear: cutting-edge research is one of the most important success factors for structural change at the Saar. Places like the CISPA Innovation Campus offer the perfect environment for the exchange between science and businesses, for innovative spin-offs and for valuable settlements."

St. Ingbert's mayor Ulli Meyer is also pleased about the cooperation with the Helmholtz Center for Information Science. He said: "CISPA is the opportunity of the century for St. Ingbert and for the Saarland. In addition to cutting-edge research in cybersecurity, sustainable jobs will be created in the city and across the region. Service providers, craftsmen and traders will benefit from this settlement. We, as a motivated team in the city administration, are making the city attractive: attractive for current residents, attractive for new residents and attractive for new businesses and start-ups."

Scientific Excellence Leads to Technology Transfer

In his speech, CISPA CEO and founding director Michael Backes emphasized the great economic and social importance of excellent cybersecurity research in times of digital transformation. He also presented his vision for CISPA as a driving force of excellence-based transfer in the region. Backes said, "Our research center has a global appeal that one would not have suspected in this location, not in Germany, and not in Europe. We never compromise on excellence and it is our excellent research that makes the CISPA transfer possible. In the last four years, we have spun out 29 companies and have already created 250 jobs so far. To drive this development further, we need venture capital on a large scale. With the CISPA Venture Capital Fund to support innovative startups, we have shown that this can be done in Germany. It is extraordinary for an institution to have its own fund. We have designed a disruptive transfer that has not been seen in Germany before."

CISPA Venture Capital Fund

The day before, CISPA, together with the investment company Sustainable & Invest from Frankfurt, had launched the CISPA Venture Capital Fund. Seven selected startups had the opportunity to apply for initial funding for their products and services in front of a jury. The fund is part of the portfolio of Sustainable & Invest GmbH and invests in innovative startups in the field of IT security and artificial intelligence. In his speech, Dr. Peter Memminger, Managing Director of Sustainable & Invest GmbH, focused on the importance of scientific transfer for the German economy. Speaking about the establishment of the CISPA Venture Capital Fund, he said, "In Germany, it is difficult to commercialize scientific findings. You at CISPA want to create something for the region; you want the transfer between science and industry to actually work. The groundwork has been laid, but let's not kid ourselves: The competition is tough out there. We have to create the conditions to keep the founders here in Saarland. If we all work toward this goal, I'm sure that great things will indeed emerge."

Talent Magnetism as Success Factor

Thomas Sattelberger shares this assessment: "What we need are unicorns: small, very strong companies. Structural change must lead to the emergence of unicorns. What we need are entrepreneurs from science and research. Regional ecosystems don't just thrive on technology, they thrive on talent. This talent magnetism is a key issue. Germany needs many CISPAs. Having CISPA in Saarland will stimulate the entire region and make it thrive."

As a leading research center for cybersecurity and secure AI, CISPA performs foundational research of international importance. It also pursues the goal of transferring scientific findings to the economy. The CISPA Incubator helps startups in the fields of cybersecurity and AI to bring their products and services to market. They receive support in raising funds and benefit from access to CISPA researchers. With the CISPA Innovation Campus, a new hub for CISPA spin-offs and startups will be created on the Alte Schmelz site in St. Ingbert.