The Morgridge Institute for Research and three subcontractors have received a $23.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate to be put toward improving software development to protect new technologies against potential threats.

Brooklin Gore, a senior researcher at the Morgridge Institute, said the institute was chosen for the grant after submitting a 40-page proposal to the Department of Homeland Security regarding the research it could accomplish on threats to software use.

Gore said the grant money will be used to bring together a team of software engineers and system administrators and to purchase computing infrastructure for a project known as the Software Assurance Marketplace in an effort to educate software developers and researchers about software security.

According to a University of Wisconsin statement, the Software Assurance Marketplace will be developed at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery and will help software developers research developments to make higher quality programs that are better protected from security threats.

“[The money] will also be put toward an improved research computing facility to help promote improved software security tools and to make it easier for software developers to apply those tools to their software,” Gore said.

Gore said the Software Assurance Marketplace would be beneficial to the campus community because it provides a place for people with specific software threats or requirements to be in contact with software professionals and advanced equipment.

“The benefits of having a research facility like this on campus in terms of the software that can be developed here and used on campus are fairly large,” Gore said. “People with specific needs in regards to software security can work closely with us here.”

Gore added the development of the marketplace will have direct benefits for the campus community because it will create about 20 full-time positions for expert software engineers and system managers and administrators.

According to a UW statement, three subcontractors will gain part of the grant in addition to the Morgridge Institute. These subcontractors include the UW, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Indiana University.

Gore said each of the subcontractors have their own role in the development of new software technologies and will be working closely with the Morgridge Institute in its software improvements.

He added the Morgridge Institute will also be working with other departments and organizations at UW that involve the use of software or participate in software research.

Gore said he sees a lot of potential for the improved software tools and ideas developed by the research facility in the field of health care here on campus, especially because the Morgridge Institute has a special focus on medical devices.

The Morgridge Institute is already having conversations with the hospitals on campus about possible improvements that could be made to medical software to make it more reliable and secure from any threats, Gore said. 

“There is a lot of scary stuff going on in the security of the health care industry, and we believe our facility will help the security of health care and the devices used in all of its services, which is an important improvement,” Gore said.