Automation software developer, COPA-DATA is one of three companies investing in the new Josef Ressel Centre for Intelligent and Secure Industrial Automation (ISIA) at the Salzburg University of Applied Sciences. Collaborating with B&R Industrial Automation and SIGMATEK, COPA-DATA will lead on cyber security in the investment, which is set to strengthen the relationship between automation companies and universities.

The Josef Ressel Centre ISIA will provide a hub for investigating the future of digitalisation and industrial automation, focusing specifically on the potential of digital assistants for industrial machines. The centre will focus on three key research fields: system architectures, artificial intelligence and cyber security.

COPA-DATA will be predominately involved in research into cyber security — a specialism on which the company has focused since its inception 35 years ago. As the developer of zenon, the industrial automation software for energy and industry, COPA-DATA has been supporting cyber security needs for several decades. The investment into the Josef Ressel Centre ISIA provides an opportunity for COPA-DATA to contribute its knowledge with academia.

Cyber security is playing an increasingly central role in enabling industrial companies to adopt digitalisation,” explained Thomas Punzenberger, founder and CEO of COPA-DATA. “The creative exchange between scientists and partner companies at the new centre provides the potential for untapped innovation, and we’re looking forward to contributing our know-how.”

Industrial control partner, SIGMATEK will support with its knowledge of system architectures, while automation and process control expert, B&R Industrial Automation will support the research area for artificial intelligence (AI).

The new centre is part of the Salzburg 2025 Science and Innovation Strategy, which aims to improve collaboration between universities of applied sciences and industrial companies. The Josef Ressel Centre ISIA is the third of its kind to be opened in Salzburg, following the success of the Josef Ressel Centre for User-Centric Smart Grid Privacy, Security and Control and the Josef Ressel Centre for Dependable System-of-Systems Engineering. Both previous centres have been transformed into longstanding institutes for their respective fields.

We are in the extremely fortunate position of being able to find an extraordinary innovation region in the Salzburg and Upper Austria area — creating almost a Silicon Valley of industrial automation,” said Stefan Huber, the newly appointed head of the centre. “I am delighted about the cooperation with three leading companies in automation: B&R Industrial Automation, COPA-DATA and SIGMATEK for the Josef Ressel Centre ISIA.”

More information on the objectives of the new centre can be found on the University of Salzburg website. For more information on COPA-DATA and its industrial software platform zenon, please visit