Cybersecurity at Georgia Tech
Branding the cybersecurity program at Georgia Tech began with an environmental scan of departments, labs, and faculty. The results surprised even those who had been there the longest: cybersecurity across the university amounted to more than 500 cyber researchers and $100 million in sponsored projects (FY 2016). New messaging and collateral consolidated the story and raised visibility for a four-pronged mission: Education, Research, Commercialization and Partnership.
Central to the challenge was maintaining discretion for the partners and technology engaged in cybersecurity — an ever-changing, national security problem — while also promoting thought leadership from a top-ranked research university. With a preference for abundant caution, Marketing had to be selective in its approach. Tactics included hosted signature events, engagement with best-in-class partners (such as RSA Conference and hack-a-thons), and a content program that leveraged commentary by researchers.
Events such as the annual Georgia Tech Cyber Security Summit drew leaders from academia, government and industry for deep discussion about emerging trends and technology solutions. Marketing served in a strategic role to define the format, secure speakers, drive attendance, write talking points and scripts, and ensure brand continuity at every touchpoint. Georgia Tech also worked collaboratively with lawmakers to gather community input for policy solutions and made in-roads with new business organizations to guide insightful roundtables.
From Lab to Marketplace
The creation of a Cybersecurity Demo Day competition for graduate students put emerging discoveries before a national panel of venture capitalists and seasoned technology leaders, who could invest in or advise research teams with market-ready ideas. Students were coached to hone a pitch and win seed funding. Winners consistently went on to secure multi-million-dollar rounds of additional financing. Venture capitalists encouraged Georgia Tech to continue the program because “there’s nothing else like this.” The prize pool grew from an initial $5,000 to $125,000 three cycles later.
Advancing Education and Research
Extending Georgia Tech’s reach also meant regularly mining its labs for newsworthy discoveries that could be safely promoted to media and stakeholders.