What links a wooden flying machine, a mechanical knight, a steam cannon and (deep breath) a rhombicuboctahedron? Each one came from the mind of Leonardo da Vinci.  Despite living five hundred years ago, da Vinci was arguably the most innovative person of all time.

But even this prolific inventor didn’t work alone.

From partnering with Pacioli on divine proportions to support with painting the Last Supper, Leonardo knew the value of collaboration. Centuries later, we’re taking on quite different challenges with present day technology. Cybersecurity, not steam cannons, is top of the agenda.

But with our new Milan co-innovation center – housed in the Leonardo da Vinci Museum of Science and Technology – we hope to channel the collaborative spirit of this great inventor.


Keeping society safe

It’s true that technology has progressed some way in the last five hundred years.

But with the proliferation of digital comes new vulnerabilities – and cybersecurity has become a pressing societal, as well as technical, challenge. How do you secure the complex supply chains, IoT infrastructure that can span a whole city, and the 5G connectivity that’s underpinning more of our daily lives, so that citizens are kept safe?

We know that malicious actors are exploring new attack strategies all the time, and that we in the technology world need to keep up. That’s why our new centre in Milan will be Cisco’s first in Europe dedicated to taking on key security challenges, such as the security, resiliency and privacy of critical infrastructure. We’ll support threat intelligence research, with the ability to respond to security incidents.

No one can do it alone. The sheer complexity of the technology landscape means we need to work with many partners – from academia, to government, to start-ups – to find the right solutions faster.

Our center will host workshops to develop new solutions and space for developers and researchers to use. With the involvement of the Italian government, the wider EU community and a whole host of partners, we’ll help everyone to use digital securely.


A network of co-innovation

Although this is the first site in EMEAR dedicated to security, Milan will join a network of five co-innovation centers operated by Cisco. Over the last five years, we have delivered solutions with real impact beyond the lab – whether it’s the driverless car testbed, SMLL, or exploring the value of 5G for rural communities.

Our collaborators have included Transport for London, Orkney town council, start-up Cortexica and Imperial College London – and we’ve learned a lot about co-innovation from these projects. The team in Milan will be able to immediately deliver results in a large scale, without building a new ecosystem or processes from scratch. And our ongoing innovation projects will be able to take advantage of this new source of cybersecurity excellence, to keep building tech that’s safe from the ground up.


The past and present of security

At Cisco, we have a long heritage of building networks to securely connect the unconnected. But further research and innovation is vital for us, as a society, to ensure we’re taking advantage of new technologies safely.

Co-innovation remains the most effective way to tackle this challenge together and we’ll look forward to further growing our capabilities in Milan. And whether it’s our outstanding collaborators – or the spirit of Leonardo watching over us – we’ll be in good company.