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In Ireland cybersecurity takes center stage

Why Irish cyber start-ups are best placed to respond to the new and challenging environment

2020 has presented enormous challenges for organizations. For the cybersecurity sector, it has given rise to opportunities.

Prior to Covid, the cybersecurity sector was already projected to grow by 10%. Since the pandemic, the potential for growth has risen further still.

“Cyber is one of the sectors that has stayed strong during Covid,” says Aoife O’Leary, Enterprise Ireland’s vice president digital technologies, who is based in San Francisco, California.

“The rise in working from home has seen people often working on their own devices at home, and always off their home networks, with major implications for enterprises and for cybersecurity. That has definitely increased market opportunity.”

Securing their future

It’s an opportunity Irish cyber companies are well placed to capture.

Irish cybersecurity technology is already found in digital applications around the world, helping to safeguard people and data at a time when the need for such protection has never been greater.

There is one reason why so many of today’s most effective cybersecurity innovations are emanating from Ireland: the power of the cluster.

Ireland scores in this space because it is home to the top five worldwide security companies. It is the location of choice for more than 40 multinational companies with cybersecurity operations. It is also home to over 60 indigenous cybersecurity companies and start-ups.

Securing Europe’s data

As well as hosting the European Headquarters of many of the world’s largest technology companies, Ireland is estimated to be home to more than 30% of all EU data.

Ireland’s economic success is therefore closely bound up with its ongoing ability to provide a secure environment for these companies to operate here.

With the advent of cloud computing, data centers are no longer simple repositories but home to live operational software environments. Any outage or incident could have immediate disruptive effects on infrastructure throughout the EU – and globally.

In short, in Ireland, cybersecurity is serious business.

Supporting security

The Irish government recognized this early, establishing the National Cyber Security Centre in 2011.

The country has had a national cybersecurity strategy since 2015. Its current strategy maps development until 2024.

“Chief security officers internationally see the way cyber strategy has been placed front and center by the Irish government. That is interesting to US executives in particular,” says O’Leary, pointing out that the California Consumer Privacy Act came two years after Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation.

As new technological developments in the sector have emerged, centered around virtualized networks using tools such as 5G, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things, Ireland’s ability to stay at the leading edge has been driven by ongoing, state-backed support for the development of cyber skills.

Despite a population of just under 5 million people, more than 6,500 people are employed in cybersecurity in Ireland, where it is rightly acknowledged as a key part of the technology sector.

Sustaining and building on this success has been seen by successive governments as an essential part of ensuring the country’s future economic growth.

Rich eco-system

All these supports have enabled Ireland to develop a uniquely rich cybersecurity eco-system, with the critical mass to sustain it now and into the future.

Education plays a huge role in this.

In Ireland, second and third level training in computer science and cybersecurity is constantly being developed and deployed.

Ireland has dedicated cybersecurity bachelors and master’s degrees and the subject is embedded as a module in a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses.

Science Foundation Ireland, the national foundation for investment in scientific and engineering research, supports cybersecurity research initiatives.

Cyber Ireland

In 2019 Cyber Ireland, another national initiative was established to provide a framework to support the country’s increasingly valuable cybersecurity cluster.  Cyber Ireland actively fosters industry, academic, and government collaboration.

Indeed, Ireland is unique in having a cybersecurity sector that is so clearly driven by industry, fuelled by academia, and supported by the government, with a dedicated agency, Cyber Ireland, to address its needs and challenges.

“Ireland is a leader in cybersecurity thanks to this unique and cohesive mix of enterprise, academic and policy initiatives,” says O’Leary.

“It’s because of this mix that its status as a global hub of cybersecurity excellence is growing both in strength and reputation.”

Seeding start-up success

Enterprise Ireland plays a pivotal role in this. Ireland’s innovation agency is also the Venture Capital arm of the Irish government. It is one of the world’s largest seed-stage VCs by deal flow and is dedicated to supporting Irish start-ups in their global ambitions.

Through its network of more than 40 international offices, it supports a portfolio of 1300 startups, including 60 cyber companies, with over $260M in annual revenue.

Its support for cybersecurity start-ups makes clear commercial sense, given the scale of the market opportunity ahead. Prior to Covid-19 spending on cybersecurity was predicted to hit $248 billion by 2023, with the cost of cybercrime globally running to hundreds of billions of dollars each year.

Ireland’s strong cybersecurity academic programs are producing graduates that are plugging into government-backed business accelerators to create innovative cybersecurity startups.

Enterprise Ireland provides them with funding, advisory, and soft supports in Ireland, plus the assistance of its network of in-market experts worldwide. 

Investor attention

All of this support is why the cyber start-ups coming out of Ireland are attracting so much international investor attention.

These include start-ups such as Tines, a security orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR) platform that allows security teams to automate any workflow, regardless of complexity, without relying on pre-built integrations.

Its founder was a senior director in cybersecurity at DocuSign, and previously a senior information security engineer at eBay. The start-up has to date raised in excess of USD 11m from VC firms such as Accel and Index Ventures.

Encryption technology start-up Evervault headed up by 19-year-old founder, Shane Curran, raised USD 3.2 million in seed funding led by US firms Sequoia Capital, Kleiner Perkins, and SV Angel.

Cyber Demo Days

To find out more about Ireland’s cybersecurity start-up success, and to join a dynamic conversation about the industry’s global future, sign up for Enterprise Ireland’s Cyber Demo Day.

The online event, which takes place on Wednesday, September 23, is entitled The Nexus of Cyber Security and Public Policy. It features an amazing panel of global leaders including Chief Security Officer of TikTok & Bytedance, Roland Cloutier, and Ann Johnson, Corporate Vice President of the Cyber Security Solutions Group for Microsoft.

Because it is online, the event will allow for wider networking opportunities than ever before.

Join executives dialing in from all across North America to build relationships with cyber industry thought leaders from Ireland and the US.

Take the opportunity to tap into Ireland’s rich cyber eco-system yourself, to meet more than 20 of Ireland’s leading cyber companies.

To secure your place, register here

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