The CODE 2021: Secure supply chains for digital sovereignty?

The CODE 2021: Secure supply chains for digital sovereignty?

The pandemic has shown the importance of international supply chains and how dependent we are. Attacks in the virtual space may have an increasing impact on supplies in our analogue world. Reason enough for the Research Institute CODE (RI CODE) of the Universität der Bundeswehr München (UniBw M) to dedicate its annual conference “CODE 2021” to the theme “Supply Chain Sovereignty: Reality or Illusion?” and invite experts to look at the topic from different perspectives. Several hundred guests dialed into the virtual event to follow impulses and discussion contributions of prominent guests from academia, industry, the military, and government agencies.

The three-day event from July 20 to 22 kicked off with a welcome from the President of the UniBw M, Prof. Dr. Merith Niehuss, as well as a warm greeting and a short presentation on the latest developments at RI CODE by its Executive Director Prof. Dr. Gabi Dreo Rodosek. This was followed by opening statements from the German Minister of Defence Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Bavarian Digital Minister Judith Gerlach and the head of the Bavarian State Chancellery, Dr. Florian Herrmann. Defence Minister Kramp-Karrenbauer said: “Strengthening and maintaining digital sovereignty is absolutely relevant for the future of our Bundeswehr. Secure and reliable supply chains, the topic of your annual conference, are central to this.” The minister highlighted the significance of the RI CODE in this context: “CODE is quite rightly one of the top addresses in Europe when it comes to cyber defense issues. With large-scale projects like CONCORDIA, you bring together cybersecurity stakeholders, pool IT expertise, promote innovation and thus strengthen Europe’s digital sovereignty.”

The opening was followed by keynote speeches by Benedikt Zimmer, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Defence, and Dr. Markus Richter, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Federal Government Commissioner for Information Technology, as well as others. In a total of three high-level panel discussions, experts from research, business, the military, and government agencies discussed issues as: How can governments and companies counter security risks in supply chains? What are the biggest obstacles that need to be addressed? How can resilience be increased?

Three points repeatedly emerged in the discussion rounds as important prerequisites for functioning supply chains: A willingness to innovate and be flexible, the need to establish European standards or certificates for key critical infrastructure components, and collaboration at the international level − especially within Europe. Laura Carpini, Cybersecurity Coordinator at the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, emphasized, “We live in an interconnected world − international relationships are key. They can really make a difference. Together, we are stronger.”

The first day of CODE 2021, with its keynotes and panel discussions, was followed by another full program day on July 21, led by RI CODE’s Technical Director Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Hommel. On the agenda: A total of nine workshops on various cybersecurity topics and the Cyber and Information Technology Innovation Conference, co-hosted with the Federal Ministry of Defence. The first place in the Cyber/IT 2021 Innovation Conference − endowed with 15,000 euros − went to Dr. Kim Nguyen, Bundesdruckerei GmbH, for an idea on Intelligent Composed Algorithms (ICA).

The conference concluded on day three with the “Science Track”, an exchange and networking forum for young scientists. The CODE 2021 was accompanied by a virtual trade exhibition, where companies from cybersecurity and digitization had the chance to present themselves.

All details about the CODE 2021 annual conference can be found on its event website: Videos of the individual presentations and panel discussions are available at and via the Research Institute CODE YouTube channel. In general, the CODE annual conferences are characterized by their networking and exchange character between science, industry, authorities, and the military, attracting several hundred international participants each year.

(By Gabi Dreo Rodosek,Ivana Buntic-Ogor, Lisa Scherbaum CODE Universität der Bundeswehr München)