Ireland has all of the ingredients to become a global cyber security centre of excellence and can realise this through a co-ordinated approach to connect its ecosystem. This was the resounding message garnered from a series of cluster initiation workshops which brought together the key stakeholders from across Ireland’s cyber security ecosystem.

Clustering is a key element of the Irish Action Plan in the Interreg Europe project ecoRIS3. It is a major success for ecoRIS3 that Cyber Ireland has been launched to connect the triple helix of industry, academia and government at a national level. Following the launch of Cyber Ireland in December 2018, three cluster initiation workshops took place in Cork, Galway and Dublin on the 18th-20th of February to connect it’s members. Over 250 attendees across the regions, heard from experts who discussed “What is needed to make Ireland a Cyber Security Centre of Excellence?” 

Ireland’s cyber security industry employs over 6,000 people and includes many of the world’s top security software MNCs (McAfee, Trend Micro, Forcepoint, eSentire and MasterCard), as well as a growing SME sector. Globally, the cyber security sector will be valued at $250 billion within five years, rapidly evolving to tackle the $600 billion which high tech crime is costing governments, companies and citizens around the world. Recognising this opportunity, a number of well-placed MNCs and academic bodies see the value in collaboration and supported by IDA Ireland, are working to ensure that the country makes the most of the potential for new job creation and innovation.

IDA Ireland, who are supporting the development of Cyber Ireland, was represented by Donal Travers, Head of Technology Group, and Victoria MacKechnie, Vice President of Technology Group. IDA highlighted the strengths of Ireland’s Cyber Security industry and the opportunities, while also acknowledging that cyber security is a cross cutting, key technological area applicable to all industries, including pharma, life sciences, and financial services. 

Image: The Galway panellists deep in discussion whilst the audience watches on 19/2/2019

It has been well documented that companies involved in clusters have greater access to resources, skilled labour, talent, capital, knowledge, and institutions. Cluster initiatives and activities framed part of the presentations at the workshops, including areas such as; ‘research and networking’, ‘cluster expansion’, ‘policy action’, ‘commercial cooperation’, ‘education and training’ and ‘innovation and technology’. The development of a robust eco-system for cyber security is required and Cyber Ireland was noted as developing at the ‘right place, right time’.

Klaus Bolving, Cluster Manager of the Danish National Innovation Cluster for Security was keynote speaker at the workshops. During his presentation, Klaus expressed the importance of leads and networks, matchmaking, collaborative projects, market intelligence, competence development, and Go-to-Market as creating the critical value chain for the cyber security cluster in Ireland. 

Image: The panelists and Cyber Ireland team at the Dublin Initiation Workshop on 20/2/2019 

To become a “Cyber Security Centre of Excellence,” Ireland needs to focus on its strengths: 

• Ireland has a strong digital economy and society that is based on data and highly skilled personnel. These are Ireland’s strengths which must be leveraged to realise the opportunities of the digital transformation that is occurring across business, government and society. 

• Some reports state that Ireland hosts a third of European data in the cloud and data centre services and lays a broad claim to being the data capital of Europe. These organisations have, and need, cyber security skills and to reinforce that their customer’s key services and information assets are in a secure and safe environment.

• Ireland attracts a lot of international business from a wide variety of sectors and is known for its strong MNC sector across a range of industries from finance and banking, med-tech, pharma, engineering, and more. These industries provide an opportunity to collaborate with big consumers of cyber security products and services.

• Ireland has 2nd mover advantage regarding governmental cyber security, so it can learn from other leading regions, such as the UK, who have developed their National Cyber Security Centre, policy, and governance.

Image: A Dublin workshop participant catching a glimpse of the speakers on the day 20/2/2019 .

The next steps for Cyber Ireland is to develop the Cluster Strategy, to elect the cluster board and organise the working groups on: Skills & Talent; Research & Innovation; Networking & Promotion, Business Development & Internationalisation. The official launch of the cluster organisation will take place on 20/05/19 in Cork. 

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