Avast, a global provider of cybersecurity solutions with over 400 million users online, has appointed Michal Pěchouček to the position of Chief Technology Officer (CTO), effective September 1, 2019. Michal Pěchouček joins from the highly regarded Czech Technical University in Prague (CTU) where he is an established professor at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering leading the Department of Computer Science and the Artificial Intelligence Center, which he founded nearly two decades ago.
Michal Pěchouček is “recognized” worldwide for his contribution to research in computer science and AI applications and is an author of a number of “highly cited” papers. He would bring to his role as CTO fresh insights based on his practical and academic experience. He was the prime mover behind the creation of the AVAST Chair of Cybersecurity at CTU, and in 2019, he also established the AVAST funded joint CTU/Avast AI and Cybersecurity Laboratory and will continue to support this project in his role as Avast’s CTO.
Michal Pěchouček will keep his professorship and will continue to run the university AI Center. He will be joined by three “leading” fellow AI scientists, who will work to expand Avast’s understanding of how artificial intelligence (AI) can radically improve society’s ability to protect against increasingly sophisticated cyber threats. These three scientists will continue to spend one day a week teaching and advising PhD students at the university in order to further reinforce the existing AVAST/CTU collaboration.
“This paves a new way for industry and academia to work together on some of the biggest and most exciting research-based challenges of our time,” said Michal Pěchouček. “Avast’s commitment to funding ongoing and new research in AI and machine learning enables CTU to demonstrate its expertise in these fields, helping attract and retain the best and brightest minds. Avast is recognized as the AI company in the field of cybersecurity, so I’m looking forward to getting started in my new role and together with engineers and scientists from AVAST and their colleagues from CTU to further develop AI to help people to be safe on the internet.”
Mr. Pěchouček previously had co-founded several technology start-ups including cyber security firm Cognitive Security (in 2013 acquired by Cisco), AgentFly, which specializes in controlling autonomous aircraft traffic and BlindSpot Solutions, which develops AI for industrial applications (in 2017 acquired by Adastra Group). He also directed the R&D Center of AI and Computer Security for Cisco and later worked as a strategist in the Cisco Security CTO office.
“Michal’s experience in academia and industry, his ability to connect ideas, people, and resources from different fields, and his track record in leading successful teams make him the ideal fit for our CTO role,” said Ondrej Vlcek, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Avast. “One of his core responsibilities will be to further our research in AI, machine learning, and cybersecurity. Michal will also be leading our core technology and R&D teams to support the work of our Threat Labs, and our big data and innovation teams. I am excited to have him and his colleagues join us, helping us to forge a stronger collaboration with academia in this fast-moving field of applied research.”