CAREERS 2019: Cyber Ireland aims to harness huge opportunity in global digital security

Cyber Ireland will start 2019 participating in a series of events to promote its role as the umbrella body for perhaps the fastest-growing industry cluster.

Backed by IDA Ireland and hosted by Cork Institute of Technology (CIT), the newly launched organisation will fly the flag globally for third level colleges and the wealth of already thriving Irish-based companies operating in cybersecurity and related fields.

The sector currently employs more than 6,000 people, with graduates typically starting on €35/40k salaries.

Globally, the sector will be valued at €250bn within five years, rapidly evolving to tackle the €600bn which high tech crime is costing companies around the world.

With its strongest hubs in Dublin, Cork and Galway, Ireland is already home to the global companies like Intel Security, Trend Micro, Sentire, IBM, Dell/EMC, VMWare, Malwarebytes, Alienvault, QualComm and countless others.

Meanwhile, thriving homegrown companies include Integrity360, Trustev, Smarttech and Ward Solutions.

Cyber Ireland’s role is to represent the interests of the existing cluster.

It will sharpen the focus on future skills needs, link third level research and industry partners, develop IoT collaborations and effectively act as a brand ambassador for the sector.

“Cyber Ireland is a national body,” said Dr Eoin Byrne, senior researcher in CIT and manager of the new cluster initiative.

There are strong clusters in Dublin, Cork and Galway, but they all realise they’re competing with the likes of The Hague, London and Paris, China, India and Eastern Europe rather than with one another.

“There are real benefits to building this out as a national organisation. We know that DIT has a strength in wireless, UCC and UL in hardware, UCD has a cybercrime and forensics group, NUIG has data analytics.

"What Cyber Ireland is about is connecting all the strengths of industry, academia and the Government.

“There is a lot going on in the Irish cyber security ecosystem, and it represents a great opportunity for the country.

"The No1 reason these companies are thriving here is that of the access to talent, the graduates from our third level colleges and the quality of innovation and research here.

"We’re just bringing all these elements together under one brand.”

IDA Ireland has also clearly seen the sector’s growth potential.

Ireland has no tradition of supporting cluster organisations at a national level.

Cyber Ireland is the first of its kind.

In global terms, there is effectively 0% unemployment in this sector.

Ireland’s colleges have been quick to develop cyber security-related courses.

It will be interesting to watch how early in 2019 all of the various strands gather under the Cyber Ireland brand.

Cyber Ireland will have a strong presence at the Beyond IoT digital tech conference in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, Cork, on January 21, led by the Nimbus Centre, CIT.

In February, Cyber Ireland will host a series of workshops in Dublin, Cork and Galway, promoting the benefits of members to companies.

Cluster Ireland will introduce Irish companies to guest speaker Klaus Bolving of CenSec, the main

Danish cluster organisation for companies with an interest in high tech industries.

Mr Bolving will discuss the sector’s evolution in Denmark as well as internationally.

The notion of an Irish national cyber security cluster was put forward at a cyber security cluster forum event held in CIT in 2017, attended by leading Irish cyber security firms.

The Department of Computer Science at CIT and IDA Ireland have been instrumental in the launch of Cyber Ireland.

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“The IDA has been very supportive,” said Dr Eoin Byrne.

“They see that this sector represents a great opportunity for Ireland.

“For Cyber Ireland to be successful, it needs to be industry-driven, supported by third level education and Government.

"Without the co-operation of these three pillars, the cluster cannot reach its full potential.”

Dr Byrne said industry must be at the core of the cluster, which needs to be championed by passionate and dedicated leaders.

Academia is also critical in addressing the skills and training needs of industry.

The group will develop a programme that is in line with international best practice in cluster development based on key learnings from successful cluster initiatives elsewhere in Europe.

Martin Shanahan, CEO of IDA Ireland, said: “Ireland has become a significant base of international technology and cyber security companies thanks to a growing, well-educated and flexible workforce with a rapidly increasing graduate output.

"The cyber security industry in Ireland is growing at an unprecedented rate and we believe Ireland is uniquely placed to benefit from increased global investment to position itself as a world class cyber security cluster.”

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