Cybersecurity as an Engine for Growth

Policy Paper
Sept. 21, 2017

Cybersecurity is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. In light of greater demand from private businesses, consumers, and the public sector, the global cybersecurity market is expected to increase to $125 billion in 2020, while cybersecurity unemployment is expected to remain at zero percent. National and local governments are actively seeking to leverage this dramatic projected growth by developing and attracting cybersecurity talent and industry. So far, cybersecurity ecosystems have popped up in various places around the globe, usually in regionally-defined “clusters” that provide the necessary factors to support development.

This study examines three case studies, Beersheba, Israel; Malvern, United Kingdom; and San Antonio, United States, to begin to shed light on how national and local governments can attract and develop a cybersecurity industry. While each geography is unique and driven by factors specific to its particular situation, this study has been able to draw several conclusions about factors that contribute to cluster growth: 

  1. Proximity to government cybersecurity functions enables a local talent pool, and opens up contracting opportunities. Government employees cycling out of government service can also seed the area with local companies, especially if support programs like incubators or bootcamps are available to help the transition to the private sector.
  2. The ability to attract or develop a workforce is imperative. Workforces can be attracted from other parts of the country or world if the quality of life is perceived to be superior. In addition, higher education institutions, if properly structured, as well as government and military institutions can play a large role in helping to develop or create a local workforce.
  3. Research centers and incubators provide much-needed capacity to develop a workforce and capture valuable intellectual property. Technology transfer programs, which are often run by major government entities or universities, can also be facilitated by providing incentives to large businesses to transfer technology and practice to smaller businesses and startups.
  4. Industry leadership helps focus development programs, raise public awareness, and bring crucial capital to the market. Industry leaders can come from the government in the form of government cybersecurity agencies or military cyber units, large companies or chambers of commerce, and academia.

The initial set of recommendations is: 

  • Partner with the private sector and local nonprofits.
  • Be creative and develop a program that is customized to the particular area. 
  • Develop connections between military and government units that have use for the local talent and the companies that surround them.
  • Facilitate the local placement of national government cybersecurity capacities. 

The report then concludes by highlighting a number of questions we don’t yet have the answer to but that would be useful for better understanding cybersecurity cluster growth, including:

  • Is sector specificity going to drive the future of the cybersecurity industry?
  • What are the best ways to train and educate a cybersecurity workforce? 
  • Does making your locality “cybersecure” attract other industries and investments?