This initiative is aimed to combine the strengths of the two largest and the most renowned institutions. CISPA Helmholtz Center for Information Security and the INRIA/Loria in Nancy will jointly strengthen cyber security research and corresponding transfer and innovation activities between France and Germany. On the German side, Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Michael Backes and Prof. Dr. Antoine Joux are in charge, while on the French side, Prof. Dr. Jean-Yves Marion and Prof. Dr. Marine Minier will be taking charge.
“Data processing and its security are a basic prerequisite for being able to take advantage of the opportunities offered by digitalization”, said Minister President Tobias Hans. “The excellent research in the field of cybersecurity and computer science in general, as well as the high level of French expertise, will make Saarland and its partners in Nancy the ideal starting point for bilateral cooperation. The new French-German Center for Cybersecurity at CISPA will contribute not only to the development and progress of cybersecurity and AI in Germany and France, but also across Europe in general. We want to make the region from Paris via Nancy and Metz and Strasbourg to Saarland the European heartbeat for cybersecurity and AI. The initiative therefore fits fully into our state strategy and serves to deepen the Franco-German partnership and friendship”, he added.
Building on these two excellent locations with their geographical proximity and history of co-operation, the new center will contribute to the regaining of digital sovereignty of Europe. “The future of cybersecurity and the trust that citizens place in it, is decided today in the heart of Europe, with the Région Grand Est and its neighbours on the other side of the border.” said Nicole Muller-Becker, Vice-President of the Grand Est region. She further added, “We must play a key role in providing financial and intellectual resources to make Europe’s digital sovereignty a reality.“
Despite major efforts in recent years, Europe is almost entirely dependent on non-European companies for digital sovereignty in many areas. This threatens a loss of control in IT security and also in data protection. “The new center aims to counteract this risk for Europe and at the same time utilize its own market potential and competitive advantages. A strong and effective structure is needed to ensure that such a change in the fields of science, business, security and society as a whole can succeed. This requires excellent and disruptive research,” said CISPA founding director Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Michael Backes.
Along the strong Franco-German axis, the center will enable focused-research on disruptive innovations for digital sovereignty. The central topics include self-determination in Data Profiling, European Internet and Cryptography Standards, Operating Systems developed and thoroughly evaluated in Europe to secure critical infrastructures, the protection of privacy and security guarantees in automated AI processes, and Secure Networking in Industry 4.0 and autonomous systems.
Prof. Pierre Mutzenhardt, President of the University of Lorraine, underlined the importance of the Center: “This signature is a milestone for cybersecurity research, as it is based on 25 years of collaboration between researchers in Lorraine and their colleagues on the other side of the border. We are proud of this important partnership for the future of European cybersecurity”.
The German location is the CISPA in Saarbrücken, a major federal research facility within the Helmholtz Association. Its research agenda covers all aspects of Information Security. In the short term, the center will grow from the current 220 to 600-800 employees at the Saarbrücken location. Due to its continuous growth, CISPA, as a Helmholtz Center, will have the necessary critical mass of researchers to fully and comprehensively meet the major challenges of research in the field of cyber security and data protection. In Nancy, the Laboratoire Lorrain de Recherche en Informatique et ses Applications (LORIA) forms the core of French IT security research. LORIA is a joint research facility of the Inventeurs Du Monde Numerique (INRIA), the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) and the Université de Lorraine. Since its foundation in 1976, LORIA has been committed to scientific excellence and technology transfer.
The center will establish bilateral Franco-German research groups. In addition to transnational cooperation, the promotion of young researchers will be a core element. Young scientists will be given the opportunity to advance their research interests independently early in their academic career through individual mentoring.