During the Global Young Leader Program, SKEMA Students interviewed the R&D Director of Deutsche Telekom Innovation Labs in Beersheba. Dedicated to cybersecurity, this major German telecommunications company is of the view that novel solutions against emerging cybersecurity threats depend on the proximity between academic research and the industry.
On February 20, SKEMA students visiting Israel as part of the Global Young Leader Program (GYLP) had the pleasure to be invited to the Gav-Yam Negev Advanced Technologies Park to interact with experts working in the startup and cybersecurity field. One of the program highlights was a presentation by Oleg Brodt, R&D Director, Deutsche Telekom Innovation Labs.
During his speech, Oleg described some general facts about his Center and elaborated on their work in the cybersecurity sector. He highlighted the importance of closing the learning gap between academia and the industry. Research in universities and their reaction to trends is up to two years quicker than the industry because their focus is on publications rather than winning customers and making a profit.
Deutsche Telekom acted upon this phenomenon and realized the potential of setting up a Center in the Negev desert, especially due to the presence of Ben Gurion University (BGU). In 2006, Deutsche Telekom founded the collaborative research center and invested €35 million between 2006 and 2014. In 2017, the center’s workforce grew to 50 researchers. This level of investment was achieved due to remarkable work results, which lead to the decision of CEO R. Obermann to double the initially planned investments from 2009 onwards.
Deutsche Telekom research lab’s key areas of innovation:
Today’s customer requirements and product success are based on usability. Therefore, the lab conducts research to identify non-user-friendly product components or services (e.g. cryptic key codes needed for programming a telephone call forward feature) and develops new approaches (e.g. voice control).
In a world that is heading towards the Internet of Things (IoT) era, it is essential to work on the integrated communication capabilities of products. To meet this need, the lab develops clear communication addresses and incorporate communicability into the product specifications as a standard.
Fully digitized companies have many upsides, but also many downsides in terms of security issues. Accordingly, the lab works on concepts for professional security systems for IT and telecommunication systems. Their work tries to ensure that the systems are protected against unauthorized access such as attacks by hackers.
In the future, it is the network that will adapt to the needs of the user. Rather than merely providing bandwidths, the infrastructure will be able to respond to the requirements of specific applications. The lab works on this trend by working on an intelligent system which will be able to automatically select the best network access for the user.
An increasing number of data-hungry applications are requiring faster networks with a shorter latency. Moreover, the modern high-performing networks need to ensure that all network components interact seamlessly. The lab works on essential requirements to ensure low-maintenance costs of new components and the compatibility with future technologies.
Basically, Deutsche Telekom wants to build a bridge between research and the industry (also, literally, a real bridge exists which connects the technopark with the university) in Beersheba. One of the main reasons for this is that Ben Gurion University is the only institute in the world that provides an engineering degree in cybersecurity and is a leading research institution in this field as well. Apart from cybersecurity, the University has strong expertise in artificial intelligence (AI).
The main goal and the long-term vision of the lab is to be on the frontline of cybersecurity developments and to attract talents from academia and intelligence units from the army. There is no doubt that they will succeed in their proclaimed goal due to their robust performance in publishing various articles in leading scientific journals and working on strategic projects within the multinational company (e.g. Best Big Data Project at Deutsche Telekom 2017).
1. Telekom innovation laboratories at Ben Gurion University (2018): http://tlabs.bgu.ac.il/
2. Deutsche Telekom AG (2015): http://bit.ly/2E76BAI
3. Deutsche Telekom AG (2017): http://bit.ly/2GXjMal
4. Haaretz (2009): https://www.haaretz.com/1.5302515
5. Deutsche Telekom Annual Report (2017): http://bit.ly/2J7rAHi
Written by Silvia Ferrari and Marcus Pernegger