New Velocity Hub to boost cybersecurity, businesses

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published March 18, 2016

 Larry Herriman, interim executive director of the Macomb-Oakland University INCubator, stands by a Michigan Cyber Range desk inside the Velocity Collaboration Center in Sterling Heights.

Larry Herriman, interim executive director of the Macomb-Oakland University INCubator, stands by a Michigan Cyber Range desk inside the Velocity Collaboration Center in Sterling Heights.

Photo by Deb Jacques

The city of Sterling Heights found some room within its 36.8 square miles to accommodate a new cyber space.

Government officials, academic representatives and others held a grand opening event March 18 for the Velocity Hub of the Michigan Cyber Range, which is housed inside the Velocity Collaboration Center building in Sterling Heights. The Velocity Collaboration Center also is home to the Macomb-Oakland University INCubator, which provides resources that help small businesses.

Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel and an estimated 200 guests were scheduled to celebrate the hub’s opening. Representatives from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Oakland University and the Merit Network were also scheduled to be there.

In a statement, Taylor said the city is proud to host a first-of-its-kind cyber hub that will conduct training and testing.

“The Velocity Hub will be tackling cybersecurity issues for companies based out of Sterling Heights as well as throughout the world,” he explained. “We know that cybersecurity will continue to be a pressing topic as technology use continues to expand and change, and now Sterling Heights, Macomb County and the state of Michigan are home to this valuable business resource (that) we believe will attract tech developers to the area.”

The Macomb-OU INCubator created the new cyber hub with the assistance of Sterling Heights, the MEDC’s Michigan Defense Center, and the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

Cyber hub advocates say it will bolster Michigan businesses and the local tech industry.

According to officials, the hub will offer training classes in which participants can study over 20 cybersecurity subfields in exchange for certification. According to the Macomb-OU INCubator, the cybersecurity courses will be offered to students of high school or college age, and it is designed to foster a new generation of security experts.

The hub will also security-test businesses’ products to see whether they meet a security checklist and are resistant to hacking.

In addition, the hub will establish a “virtual sandbox” in which Michigan-based businesses can rent out secure server space and cloud computing services for a fee, according to Larry Herriman, interim executive director of the Macomb-OU INCubator.

“We have a lot of companies that are creating new products, software, hardware,” he said.

Herriman said the new hub developed out of Gov. Rick Snyder’s Michigan Cyber Initiative in 2011, and he added that the hub was funded by a nonprofit organization called the New Economy Initiative.

Herriman also said the “virtual sandbox” cloud system is run by Merit Network, a collaborative effort among Michigan’s state universities.

Herriman explained that the Velocity Hub is a node of the Merit Network’s Michigan Cyber Range, which helps train cybersecurity experts.

While he said some other Michigan Cyber Range nodes exist in the state, they’re at National Guard bases or are used for other purposes.

“This will be the first one in the state of Michigan to have a public interface that is located in a business incubator,” he said.

The Macomb-Oakland University INCubator at the Velocity Collaboration Center is located at 6633 18 Mile Road in Sterling Heights. Learn more by visiting www.oakland.edu/macombouinc or by calling (586) 884-9320.

Call Staff Writer Eric Czarnik at (586) 498-1058.