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May 18, 2022

Québec: A True Cybersecurity Hub

Cybersecurity challenges are intensifying, and providing organizations with digital protection is becoming more crucial than ever. This industry, in which Québec has positioned itself as a leader, develops and implements security measures to prevent malicious individuals from consulting, copying or modifying information and even the computer equipment itself.


Login authorization and cyber security concept of fingerprints. Blue integrated circuit with locks on the bottom. Control access and authentication online.


The presence of many world-class cybersecurity leaders and researchers, low costs and generous government support are just a few of the reasons that make Québec a top location for cybersecurity investments.


A complete ecosystem built on a solid foundation


Canada, the fourth-ranked global destination for foreign investment in the sector 1, is a strategic hub of the cybersecurity industry. Many companies, including GoSecure, Hitachi Systems Security and RHEA Group, have located to Québec. Here’s what motivated their choices:


Mathieu Grignon, the former Executive VP of GoSecure’s Canadian operations, stated: “In Montréal, we have one of Canada’s largest ethical hacking teams. The members work tirelessly to stay on the cutting edge of technology and help businesses counter computer threats. The region has the best conditions for innovating in such a critical and fast-changing field, including a collaborative ecosystem and a highly skilled talent pool.”


Fadi Albatal, the former Chief Strategy Officer at Hitachi Systems Security, explained his company’s choice: “We chose Montréal as the global headquarters of our R&D and cybersecurity operations because the city offers one-of-a-kind opportunities to recruit and attract top talent from around the world. […] Montréal’s unparalleled diversity allows us to develop local cybersecurity solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.”


André Sincennes, President of RHEA Group, had this to say: “For us, Gatineau is a strategic choice because of its proximity to the Canadian government, organizations like Université du Québec en Outaouais, and various incubators and research centres—in short, a complete ecosystem devoted to our industry.”


In conclusion, the talent pool, ecosystem conditions and innovative research centres are, according to these entrepreneurs, factors that should not be overlooked when choosing a business location.


1 Between 2015 and 2019.


Numerous Québec success stories in the industry


A number of major cybersecurity projects have been carried out in Québec. They include the creation of Qohash, a company that provides cybersecurity solutions, primarily to financial institutions. Founded in Québec City, the company is growing rapidly and in 2021 raised $8 million in Series A funding.


Cybersecurity and information technology go hand in hand. When it comes to IT, Québec boasts a solid network of over 230,000 professionals, 18,000 university students and roughly 10,000 IT companies. Many R&D projects combining AI and cybersecurity have been launched. Here are a few of them:


  • The Université de Montréal’s Artificial Intelligence for Cybersecurity Lab
  • A $2.25-million National Defence grant to Concordia University to develop technologies and policies in next-generation AI and cybersecurity
  • The Desjardins/National Bank Industrial Research Chair in Cybersecurity at Polytechnique Montréal, dedicated to studying AI applications in cybersecurity


All these successes were made possible by the more than 30 research chairs and laboratories in Québec and its renowned researchers. In addition to hosting the Desjardins/National Bank Research Chair, Polytechnique Montréal is also home to the Maritime Cybersecurity Centre, a centre of excellence that seeks to enhance the security of strategic maritime infrastructure. There, Ms. Nora Boulahia Cuppens formalizes security policies, analyzes cryptographic protocols, formally validates security properties and more.


Concordia University is home to a research chair in cyber-physical security. Partnering with Hydro-Québec and Thales, Mr. Mourad Debbabi specializes in cyber forensics, malware analysis, network and software security, and the development of security protocols to protect smart power grids.


Research centres contribute to Québec’s prosperity. Québec is the Canadian leader in R&D investments 2, and three of its universities are among the country’s top 10 research universities 3. With companies like Google, Facebook and Microsoft investing in local R&D, Québec has everything that cybersecurity companies look for when deciding where to set up shop!


2 As a percentage of GDP.
3 Université de Montréal, McGill University and Université Laval.