Blackberry x UW: innovation lab

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By: Jansher Saeed

Although historically a mobile device company, Blackberry holds a strong presence within the cybersecurity industry. But as technological needs grow exponentially, innovation within the industry has become a primary motive for the organization.

Blackberry’s partnership with UW, its founding university, has fostered an innovation lab on campus. As of Nov. 12, 2019, the pair have focused efforts on fast-tracking Research and Design (R&D) to help get products into the market faster, hoping to strengthen Canadian technology and the cybersecurity industry.

 “We are proud to have worked with the University of Waterloo for more than 30 years to help build our company and turn it into one of the world’s most recognized and celebrated technology brands,” Charles Eagan, Blackberry’s Chief Technology Officer, said. “We are thrilled to reinvigorate our relationship, which promises to strengthen the entire Canadian technology and cybersecurity industry.”

Working from an official partner suite on campus is part of the Blackberry strategy.

The company hopes to work near students focusing their efforts on finding ways students can work with top Blackberry R&D and Business Leadership teams in research, workshops and development sessions.  

One of these sessions, Marketing 101, kicked off on Nov. 12, 2019. Marketing 101 is geared towards teaching students about the importance of Go To Market (GTM) strategy by working through real-life scenarios. This session is led by Blackberry executives on campus. 

“In terms of cybersecurity challenges of the future, I think we need some capabilities that use things like machine learning and better security methods.

If we have a few billion products washing ashore in the next five years, how do we do that in a safe and secure way,” Eagan said.

The Marketing 101 session is just one of many interactive spaces Blackberry and UW are facilitating for students on campus.  

“We have some grad student activity with certain departments, so we are working with the Cybersecurity Privacy Institute, WATcar, the Velocity interactions.

We are sort of in the early days of re-energizing how we are working and when we will be able to pursue one of them,” Eagan said.

These departments, including Waterloo artificial intelligence institute (Waterloo.ai), are of primary interest to the development of a cyber-secure Internet of Things (IoT) in Blackberry’s upcoming endeavours.  

“We are keen to build on the deep partnership fostered between BlackBerry and centres like the WatCAR and expand research into new areas where Canada can lead the world in technology development,” Charmaine Dean, UW Vice President, University Research and International at the UW said.

Opportunities are not just limited to students. Blackberry has also hosted sessions discussing plans for the collaboration and encouraged discussion on the topic with professors and research personnel at UW.

Blackberry will also be hosting a networking event in the GEDI space on Jan. 27, 2020, from 1 pm-3 pm where students can meet and discuss work opportunities for the summer 2020 term. 

Blackberry has over 150 student positions currently open on WaterlooWorks. 

More information and resources for prospective students are available on the Blackberry student webpage.

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