The National Science Foundation Transition To Practice (TTP) program is critical to the successful deployment and realization of value for NSF-funded cybersecurity research. TTP has been named a priority by the National Science and Technology Council’s subcommittee on Network and Information Technology Research Development (NITRD), since 2011, as the participating agencies recognize the need to see funded research adopted by the operational community and ultimately make a positive impact on society. Currently, a chasm exists between the academic cybersecurity research community’s output, and the operational Information Technology (IT) community, which acquires system prototypes that often result from later stage academic research components and implements them in operational environments as either proofs of concept or in operations.
The goal of the NSF TTP program is to enable NSF-funded cybersecurity research to cross this chasm and become an operationalized asset to add value in our nation’s cybersecurity efforts. Developing a comprehensive TTP program to enable as many NSF grants as possible to transition to practice in an accelerated fashion has not been approached before, and there is no solicitation for this type of proposal at this time. This EAGER proposal involves radically different approaches, not tried before, applies new expertise, and engages novel interdisciplinary and cross-agency perspectives.
The goal of this project is to serve as a "matchmaker" between academic cybersecurity researchers, who often have interesting results that can be put in operations, and CIOs, CISOs and IT Operational staff, who often have unique requirements that cannot be satisfied by current vendor technologies. The project team will serve as an intermediary between the two disparate communities, encouraging adoption of later stage research by operational users. The team will gather input from NSF, complementary agency and research programs, as well as researchers and practitioners who have used NSF research in an operational setting. Requested input from these collaborators will include TTP experiences, including challenges, lessons learned and successes, best practices, and ideas for next practices.
This two-year proposal will allow the team to gather insight, plan the program to meet expectations, design, develop, begin to execute the pilot program, and initiate the foundation for a sustainable TTP program model. The TTP program needs to have a practical, useful way to engage researchers early in their goal to deploy research in an operational setting, coach them through the steps, enable them to find potential practitioners to pilot research assets to enable operationalization, and ensure the research becomes an operationalized asset. This will take thoughtful listening, thinking, and deployment of potentially valuable programs and processes to engage TTP efforts and individuals. Without such a focused effort, the TTP program will likely remain as is or incrementally improve through evolution. This proposal will provide the funding to focus on making TTP ever more valuable for the researchers, operational users, NSF and our country.