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Innovation in Cyber Security

It’s time for the August blog from our Head of Cyber, Ciara, in which she discusses the breadth of innovative cyber firms in Scotland’s cluster and its potential for growth.

Within the technology sector we are very familiar with using the word ‘tech’ to append to certain sectors such as fintech, regtech, traveltech. But there doesn’t seem to be an equivalent that is commonly used for the cyber security sector. And this makes me wonder whether the perception (of those outside the cyber sector) is that this sector does not have the equivalent technology companies creating innovative solutions to solve the key cyber and societal challenges of today and tomorrow?

That is of course not the case as those of us within the cyber sector are very aware of the many start-ups and scale-ups who are doing just that.

The Scottish cyber sector is represented by a strong mix of the key company types such as consultants, managed service providers, resellers and cyber companies offering their own products and services. It is the latter group, those creating their own products and services, that are the cyber ‘tech’ organisations, in particular those whose sole raison d’etre is to build their own products.

You only have to look at the numerous spinouts from Edinburgh Napier to get a glimpse of the innovation happening in Scotland: ZoneFox (acquired by Fortinet in 2018), Cyan Forensics, Symphonic Software (acquired by Ping Solutions in 2020), and more recently Memcrypt, now led by the well renowned cyber entrepreneur, Peter Jaco. We are also seeing an increasing number of spinouts from other universities such as Lupovis from Strathclyde University and Cybershell Solutions, which was founded by an Abertay University graduate.

Outside of universities, we have also seen award-winning companies such as My 1st Login and Snapdragon Monitoring build their businesses in Scotland. And more recently, companies such as Poly Digi Tech and Ionburst are leading the charge on the next generation of products which help to protect businesses and individuals online. Poly Digi Tech were named in the DCMS list of top UK innovative cyber companies and Ionburst’s pitch recently won at the EIE tech investor conference.

Currently there are roughly 60 Scottish start-ups/scale-ups within the cyber cluster, with this number increasing all the time. Approximately 50% of these are solely focussed on building their own products (this includes SaaS products, often referred to as services). Compared to some well-established sectors in Scotland, this is a relatively modest number but as cyber security is still a reasonably new sector it is certainly not insignificant and we expect this number to grow year-on-year.

With the UK sector being estimated at around £8.9bn in revenues with further growth expected, it is not surprising that more and more companies are being set up to address the evolving challenges we all face as individuals and businesses to stay ahead of the cyber criminals.

And of course it is the quality which is important, to ensure we have companies which grow and succeed in the market they operate within and, in my opinion, we have that high quality in abundance. It is an exciting time for the cyber start-up community, and I am looking forward to witnessing the journey that many of these companies are undertaking as they grow their teams and develop and mature their businesses.

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