The Windsor region’s goal of creating a cybersecurity ecosystem got a boost this week when the British cybersecurity software development company Secure Elements and the local firm Vehiqilla announced a strategic partnership.
The Coventry-based company will co-locate in Windsor. The firms are finalizing their memorandum of understanding outlining the partnership’s operational aspects.
Vehiqilla founder AJ Khan said the addition of Secure Elements is an important addition to the local technology/cybersecurity community and helps further diversify the local economy.
“I think there’s the potential in Windsor to create a cybersecurity cluster of companies,” Khan said.
“That is something that can go beyond automotive. There are other mobility spaces – aviation, space and drones – with cybersecurity challenges to be solved.
“Vehiqilla came here now Secure Elements is here, other such companies if they come, will build a cluster around a specialty technology.
“From a cyber innovation and cyber entrepreneurship perspective, I see this as a major success story.”
Khan said the number of new jobs to be created is still being determined and will be based on the market.
He noted that the market is rapidly growing with companies forced to meet specific standards by July 2024 to sell their products in many markets.
“Because of the presence of Secure Elements, I already see opportunities for multiple jobs to be based out of here,” Khan said.
“Once we develop a core expertise in Windsor, that expertise can be applied outside North America at least. We cannot give a number at the moment because the market is very nascent, but I would say I’m looking at quite a few good paying jobs.”
Khan said based on the market’s direction, he’s expecting Vehiqilla will require major hiring from 2024 onwards. The company, which moved to Windsor in 2020, currently has five employees.
Secure Elements was founded by director Saket Mohan in January 2022 and is in the process of adding its fourth employee.
The company uses artificial intelligence to power its Product Security Lifecycle Application, which helps engineers analyze product development and troubleshoot weaknesses during design and usage.
Mohan said the timing was right to enter the North American market with the explosive transformation the automotive sector was experiencing. His company’s customer base is largely focused on smaller firms and startups but is looking to now target the many Tier 1s and 2 companies in the Windsor region.
“The OEM is manufacturing and creating the vehicle sold to the customers, but the providers of the technologies, the hardware and software actually come from the tier 1s and tier 2s,” said Mohar.
“The problem is there is a separate safety team in those organizations, separate systems team and separate cybersecurity team or they’re developing a team. We’re integrators for systems, safety and cybersecurity.”
The Windsor region is gaining traction in developing into an auto cyber security hub
Unveiling of Project Arrow shines spotlight on local companies
Mohan said Windsor was the logical choice to locate in North America because of the region’s growing profile in automobility, electrification and battery production. Equally important was the area is developing a talent pool advantage with the University of Windsor’s SHEILD Automotive Cybersecurity Center of Excellence and St. Clair College launching an automotive cybersecurity program.
“The presence of cybersecurity knowledge and skill sets were there,” said Mohan of why he chose Windsor.
“The University of Windsor and Ontario Tech University (Oshawa), coupled with the skilled resources that actually came out of those universities , so we don’t have to look beyond and search for people. My relationship with AJ as well was a contributing factor.
“A mix of factors why we wanted to collaborate with Vehiqilla in that region.”