The Ford government’s announcement last October left Brampton’s university hanging in the balance without a funding commitment but new plans are in the works.

Brampton council voted yesterday to establish a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Ryerson University to establish an innovation hub and a cybersecurity centre in downtown Brampton and continue growing the Chang School in the city.

The project will be led primarily by Ryerson in partnership with the city, and the university has big plans. The university is taking its 10 years of experience running the DMZ — one of the world’s top innovation hubs — and applying some of the same principles to the innovation hub in Brampton.

The hub will offer things like the DMZ’s validator program for startups, EON Entrepreneurs Program, DMZ Sandbox, which helps entrepreneurs refine their business ideas, a specialized career centre, and opportunities for coaching, tutoring and mentoring. Ryerson plans to help at least 60 startups in the first five years of being established.

Ryerson’s biggest idea is establishing a national centre for cybersecurity — and it’s going to be called the Cybersecure Catalyst. Cybercrime is expected to cost businesses $6 trillion annually by 2021, and there’s a huge gap in the talent needed to fill jobs in the industry.

The plan is to build a training centre located in Brampton to attract students and trainers from across the country within the next five years. In that time Ryerson plans to assist 60 cybersecurity companies in scaling up, provide internationally-recognized certifications to 2,200 cybersecurity professionals and offer introductory classes to over 600 people — the majority of which will come from underrepresented communities in the cybersecurity world.

Naturally, they also plan to support entrepreneurs in the industry and will offer mentorship and support to help about 60 cybersecurity companies scale up.

“This is a very exciting move forward for Brampton, moving important projects with Ryerson University closer to reality. These projects will help spur economic growth, create jobs, and position Brampton as a hub for cybersecurity. Our post-secondary students will now have the options to get into a field that is globally relevant, and reinforce our position as an important, global city,” says Mayor Patrick Brown.

Council approved the motion to have city staff draft the MoU and it will be ratified at the next council meeting. Ryerson is asking for $5 million over five years to establish and grow the Cybersecure Catalyst. The money would be drawn from the $50 million previously earmarked by council as Ryerson’s operating fund had the full university gone ahead as previously expected.

The decision to pull Brampton’s university funding was a big hit to the community and it put the city’s partnership with Ryerson in a precarious situation. But both parties have continued to collaborate and remain at the table despite Ford’s decision.

“Ryerson is dedicated to its partners at the City of Brampton and Sheridan College, to help extend education choices and access to opportunities in innovation and entrepreneurship to Brampton. Both will be economic drivers for the city and we are pleased to be providing our support, leadership and expertise in bringing these opportunities to Brampton,” says Glenn Craney, Deputy Provost and Vice-Provost of University Planning,

Ryerson noted in its presentation to council on Wednesday that in addition to the innovation hub and Cybersecure Catalyst, it plans to continue working with the city on plans to develop a full university campus in Brampton. You can expect to see Ryerson signage on the west wing of city hall sometime in the near future.

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