Scotiabank donates $2 million to UBC for cybersecurity and financial initiatives

On March 13, UBC and Scotiabank made a joint statement announcing a $2 million donation from Scotiabank to support cybersecurity and financial risk analysis initiatives at UBC. The grant — which will be used to fund “hackathons,” internships and speakers’ series — will be administered over the course of five years, and will support two teams devoted to research in cybersecurity and financial risk modelling. 

“Scotiabank is proud of our long history with UBC — in fact, our most active student banking branch in Canada is at UBC,” said Kyle McNamara, executive vice president of global retail banking technology at Scotiabank. “The bank is proud to make a $2 million donation to UBC to develop the Scotiabank Cybersecurity and Risk Analytics Initiative.”

The money, according to Sauder School of Business professor Dr. Hasan Cavusoglu — who will lead the research team dealing with cybersecurity along with electrical and computer engineering professor Dr. Konstantin Beznosov — will mainly be used to support graduate students with whom they will be working on various research projects.

“During this research, we will be using money to maybe hire research assistants in the undergrad level,” said Cavusoglu. “So there will be some training to do at the undergrad level as well.” Part of the money is also dedicated to supporting interns that will be hired by Scotiabank and will be matched with UBC students depending on their skill sets. 

Cavusoglu noted that UBC brings an important interdisciplinary perspective to these initiatives which will hopefully benefit “academia as well as industry.”

What remains to be seen, however, is how the teams working on financial risk management and cybersecurity will conduct their research, and whether they will be working together on certain aspects of their research or not at all.

“I think there are some possible overlapping areas which we are welcome to discuss further. We haven’t decided [on anything] yet ... possibly we could leverage their expertise on a specific domain, but we haven’t formalized anything yet.”

The Creative Destruction Lab West (CDL) established at Sauder will also be supported by this donation. The CDL at UBC is an extension of the existing lab at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.

“[The grant] helps support and encourage new technology ventures at the commercialization stage. This builds on the investment we have already made in the Creative Destruction Lab in Toronto,” said McNamara.

With regards to his role in the CDL, Cavusoglu said that he will be participating in the meetings and giving security-related advice to help entrepreneurs develop their ideas. “I will give some advice about how security has to be embedded into [an idea] ... someone pointing them [in the right direction] will be beneficial,” he said.

The team that will be working on the research into financial risk management that this grant also covers is led by statistics professors Dr. John Braun, Dr. Natalia Nolde and Dr. Harry Joe, none of whom could be reached for comment.